Here's When Experts Say Is the Best Time to Buy Flights for the Holidays

Holiday travel season is just about here. If you haven't purchased a flight already, here's when you should do it.

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Many people go through the process every year and still feel like it is a shock. Flights around the holidays are expensive. They pretty much always are. That is especially true this year when flight prices have been rising and that trend shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

Flight prices can feel mysterious. And, to be fair, there are a lot of forces exerting pressure on those prices to make them change. But the experts at Scott's Cheap Flights have offered a few tips about when flight prices tend to be the cheapest around the holidays. We are, after all, just over 60 days from the end of 2022.

When is the best time to buy holiday flights?

 "The best time to book your holiday flights was this summer," say the experts at Scott's Cheap Flights. If you were on top of things, good for you. If not, file that knowledge away for next year.

The second-best time to book tickets is right now. "From here on out, flights are almost certainly going to get more expensive," they say. So, stop waiting for an unexpected dip in prices. It probably is not going to happen. 

If you can't book immediately, Scott's Cheap Flights advises that you use the "21-day rule." Many fare levels include an "advance purchase requirement, which usually mandates that a particular fare bucket is only available if booked 21 days or more in advance of travel." The site suggests that if you can't book now, the next best option is to make sure you purchase tickets at least 21 days before your travel. 

There are other buckets that function in a similar way 14 and seven days in advance of travel. After that 21-day cutoff, the next best option is going to be booking 14 days before travel.

More holiday flight tips

The site also calls Thanksgiving a "sleeper hit" for international travel. Domestic travel can be expensive with a side of crowded airports. International travel, however, can offer some surprising fares, especially if you're traveling to Europe during Thanksgiving week.

If you're staying domestic, you should adjust your expectations. "Cheap" travel isn't something you find around the holidays. But if you want to cut travel costs, just like any other time of the year, work some flexibility into your plans. Certain days of the week are more expensive than others, and the day you want to travel may be significantly more expensive than the days around it.

Moreover, traveling on a holiday like Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve can help cut costs as well, as those tend not to be popular travel days. That is not possible for everyone, but it is another way to cut costs. 

Of course, sometimes you will find that unicorn flight that is unexpectedly affordable. But for the most part, the advice from Scott's Cheap Flights is going to get you home for the holidays at the most inexpensive fare you can find.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin on Twitter.