Is It Already Time to Buy Plane Tickets for the Holidays?

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Although Labor Day just ended, it's about time to start planning -- and booking -- your holiday flights. Find out why.

Although Labor Day just ended, it’s about time to start planning — and booking — your holiday flights.

The best time to buy airfare is six weeks prior to the holidays, according to a recent analysis by travel site Hipmunk. In other words, book Thanksgiving flights the week of Oct. 3 and Christmas flights the week of Nov. 7.

You’ll save 14 percent on average and more than 50 percent for some destinations, Hipmunk found.

That’s based on an analysis of the median booking prices of the 20 most popular U.S. destinations for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Newark, New Jersey
  3. New York City (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
  4. Chicago
  5. Phoenix
  6. Seattle
  7. San Francisco
  8. Las Vegas
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Denver
  11. Charlotte, North Carolina
  12. Boston
  13. Los Angeles
  14. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  15. Dallas
  16. Tampa, Florida
  17. New York City (LaGuardia Airport)
  18. Detroit
  19. Fort Lauderdale
  20. Atlanta

For less-traveled destinations, however, prices fluctuate more, making it harder to identify a single best week to book holiday flights.

Hipmunk found that this week and the week of Nov. 14 are the best for booking Thanksgiving flights to destinations that are not among the 20 most popular. The weeks of Oct. 12 and Dec. 12 are best for booking Christmas flights to such destinations.

Despite its best-week predictions, Hipmunk also notes that the best time to buy airfare is “perhaps one of the most contentious topics, debated by travel companies, pundits and experts alike.”

Additionally, AirfareWatchdog.com President George Hobica tells CBNC that pricing data is related to other factors such as the type of seats available on a given flight, the time the flight leaves, or the length or location of any layovers.

Hobica continues:

“I don’t believe there’s a magic time to book, but there is a magic time to look — and that is every day.”

For more help planning holiday air travel, check out:

What do you consider the best times to book flights for the holidays? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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