The holidays may still be months away, but here at Airfarewatchdog we’re determined to mark Christmas in July with travel planning. Why? Because the reality is that most travelers wait far too long to start planning their holiday travel, and miss out on ways to save.

According to our most recent poll 46 percent of travelers plan to hit the skies this upcoming holiday season, up 84 percent from last year. That’s good news for the airlines. You know what else is good news for the airlines? The fact that most travelers wait to start their airfare hunt with less than 30 days to go (hello, higher profits).

Airfare pricing is about as unpredictable as the stock market. They fluctuate by route, month, and a number of other factors, making it virtually impossible to predict the best time to buy. For example, we saw the following fluctuations between August and September:

  • Average fares for Los Angeles to Atlanta start at $850, going as low as $474, and back up to $753.
  • Atlanta to Denver fares had the commonly expected steady increase from $397 to $479.
  • Boston to Fort Meyers actually saw a decline in December, starting at $608 and ending at $488.  

For more proof, check out the price fluctuations on the most popular routes in the infographic below (click to expand).

Some “experts” will tell you untrue, obscure booking rules: "Book exactly 54 days in advance, on a Tuesday at 3 P.M., or at midnight when the moon is full.' The truth is, there's no magic time of day or day of the week to pull the trigger, but there is a general time to start planning, and that’s now. It’s pretty simple: The longer you procrastinate, the less chance you have of snagging a deal.

One of the easiest things you can do is sign up for airfare alerts, which will notify you as soon as prices drop. In fact, 40 percent of travelers predict they’ve saved at least $50 by jumping on a deal they’ve found via an airfare alert. Just Google “airfare alerts” to see what’s available. We recommend signing up for a few, as they all work a bit differently. Just beware that not all airfare alerts are created equal. Airfarewatchdog alerts (unlike a lot of others) show fares on every airline departing from the U.S. and Canada, including Delta and Southwest. You can even filter out the airlines you don’t want to see (no comment).

Other ways to save include being flexible and doing your research. It’s typically cheaper to fly on the actual holiday itself rather than peak days before and after. You can compare prices on a number of different sites, but don’t hesitate to snag a good deal when you see one. Check out our full list of holiday travel tips here.

Where are you headed this holiday season? Have you already started planning your travel? We want to hear from you in the comments below.


-        Historical Flight Data: TripAdvisor Flights Data. Based on 100 most searched U.S. routes (search dates August-December 2016), round-trip only. Departures 12/22/16-12/23/16, Returns 12/26/16-1/1/17.

-        Search Trends: Data from our survey of over 1,200 travelers 

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