Here's How You Can Save on Holiday Airfare, Even as It Hits a 5-Year High

Hopper is advising travelers to book by mid-October at the latest.

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While Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg predicts improved travel conditions by the holiday season, that doesn't include prices. The industry's already skyrocketing fares aren't expected to get any better. In fact, domestic travel for Christmas is up 31% from 2019 alone as flights hit a five-year high. 

According to fare tracking and booking app Hopper, roundtrip domestic flights for the holidays will average around $463 while international travel has hit $1,300, up 26% from 2019. Travelers can expect a $350 average in the US and $795 abroad.

Courtesy of Hopper

Here's the good news. Those prices, particularly for Christmas fares, will "fluctuate in the coming weeks," according to Hopper Lead Economist Hayley Berg. 

"With both Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares expected to be higher than in previous years, we recommend travelers start planning early by monitoring prices now," Berg told Travel + Leisure. "Flexible travelers will save the most this holiday season. If you can be flexible on travel dates and fly before and after each holiday week you can save as much as $300 off-peak airfares." 

Customers should consider Monday, November 21, or Thanksgiving Day for travel and reserve their returns for the week after. Similarly, the best dates for Christmas departure are either Monday or Tuesday ahead of the holiday, with a Tuesday or Wednesday return the following week. 

According to the outlet, at the very latest, flights should be booked by mid-October.

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.