The Best Time to Buy Flights for the 2019 Holiday Season

September 19, 2019, 3:36 PM UTC

While it’s hard to contemplate right now, the holiday season is right around the corner. And people flying home for Thanksgiving or Christmas might want to think about booking their tickets in the near future to get the best prices.

AAA has released its annual study of the ideal times to purchase flights and found that the best deals typically start around Sept. 25 (based on booking data from the past three years).

The window between Sept. 25 and Oct. 27 has an average price of $491 per ticket for Thanksgiving, while the Sept. 26 to Oct 25 window averages $551 for a ticket around Christmas.

Those aren’t the cheapest fares, though. If you’re willing to gamble (and it certainly is a gamble), last minute fares (typically bought seven to 13 days before the flight) offer the biggest savings—$482 for Thanksgiving and $488 at Christmas. The risk, of course, is that limited availability could make seats hard to come by at those rates.

Holiday travelers should make their plans now,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel in a statement. “Procrastinating travelers may be able to find last-minute deals on flights close to the holidays … but flight availability for these peak travel weeks will be very limited by that time.”

As always, the day you fly can make a big difference in the fare. Thanksgiving travelers can save big by flying on Turkey Day, with the lowest average price coming in at $454. And if you plan to fly on Dec. 26, expect to pay a premium, with average prices of $692.

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