Next Week Is the Best Time to Book Holiday 2021 Flights, According to Hopper
Summer may be just starting to wind down, but the holidays are right around the corner. And it turns out now is the best time to book flights for the festive season, according to travel booking app Hopper.
Next week — Sept. 13 to be specific — is when travelers will find the cheapest deals for holiday travel, Hopper shared with Travel + Leisure.
"For those ready to book, we suggest taking advantage of the lower fares available in mid-September, particularly for the Christmas holiday," Adit Damodaran, an economist with Hopper, told T+L. "Overall, we recommend that travelers start monitoring flights now and book no later than Halloween for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in order to score good deals."
In fact, after Oct. 31, Hopper said prices leading up to Thanksgiving tend to spike by 40% for domestic flights and prices for Christmas tend to rise by 18% in the three weeks before Dec. 25. When it comes to celebrating the holiday outside the country, prices for international flights tend to rise by 23% throughout December.
To score the best deals, Hopper said travelers should look to fly on less popular days like Monday, Nov. 22, for Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve. On the other hand, some of the most expensive days to fly are Sunday, Nov. 28th, and Sunday, Dec. 26.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, travelers are in luck this year. Damodaran said Thanksgiving airfare is "shaping up to be lower than pre-pandemic prices" and will average $300 round trip for domestic flights, or 11% less than 2019. International airfare is also seeing "historic lows" with flights coming in at 17% lower than in 2019.
But Christmas is trending more expensive, averaging $430 round trip for domestic flights, or 10% more than 2019.
Travelers who do plan to hit the skies for the holiday season are looking at both domestic cities and warm-weather destinations. For Thanksgiving, the No. 1 searched United States destination was Los Angeles, followed by Atlanta and Denver. While those looking to head away from the mainland U.S. searched for San Juan, Puerto Rico; London, and Cancun.
Over Christmas, Denver was the top-searched city for domestic flights, followed by Los Angeles and Miami. And when it comes to getting away, warm weather reigned with San Juan taking the top spot once again, followed by Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Mexico City.
Americans started planning their Christmas vacations even earlier than usual this year. As early as July, home booking site Vrbo saw a 15% bump in demand for homes in December.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.