When is the right time to book flights and hotels for the holidays?
Your family is probably starting to shape your travel plans for the holidays, so you know which days you need to take time off from work. Normally, you may have booked your vacation flights and accommodation during the summer months. But you may be able to wait a little longer this year to set your travel itinerary for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve.
Book your flights one month in advance
You can normally find cheap flights up to a month ahead of your travel dates. The prices should be the same if you are proactive and book more than 60 days of vacation. The current holiday flight prices are already lower than their normal prices, so we might not see the prices drop from here.
For Thanksgiving flights, you must book your flight before the end of October. The busiest travel days are usually the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, as people often return home on this day. Thanksgiving Day this year is November 26, 2020.
For Christmas and New Years Eve, you should always be able to find cheap flights over Thanksgiving weekend. You can keep an eye out for special Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals offered by airlines and hotels.
Not waiting until the last minute to book also means you can have better seat availability. Last minute bargain hunters may see more seats open than in years past if travel sentiment remains low.
Last minute travel deals are uncertain
The 2020 travel theme is flexible and waits a few days before your departure date. Last minute bookings mean you’re less likely to end up with a flight credit that you need to redeem at a later date.
We can see a surge of bookings within 14 days of departure. Travelers can wait to learn about travel restrictions, the mandatory quarantine rules that will be in place, and the local health situation. If people feel comfortable traveling during the winter holidays, we can see flight prices go up in the last few days leading up to the holiday peak.
Hotel rates are more likely to stay the same or go down, which means you might find a last-minute hotel deal. Of course, you may not be able to stay in the location of your choice or reserve a certain type of room if you make a reservation on the same day.
Define tariff alerts
Airlines have yet to release their forecast for peak holiday travel volumes. As the daily number of TSA daily screenings are significantly lower than usual, airports will most likely be more empty than in previous holiday seasons. As a result, we can see airlines offering last minute deals even a week before departure.
The good news is that flight prices are lower than usual for most routes. If you have a flexible travel budget, you may decide to book now to secure your flight and seat.
Avoid peak travel dates
If possible, avoid peak dates to get lower prices. For example, a one-way flight from Atlanta to Washington, DC (DCA) might cost $ 159 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, but only $ 91 on Tuesday.
If your schedule is flexible and you can work remotely, leaving home earlier or extending your stay into the week can help save you a few dollars on plane tickets.
So far, we know that Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are blocking the middle seat until November 30, 2020. Other airlines could follow suit on Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas to encourage travelers.
Although fewer people are flying, blocking the middle seat also means fewer seats per plane. While you can distance yourself socially, you can still be on a full flight when traveling on a busy day.
Familiarize yourself with change and cancellation fees
Airlines and hotels are becoming more flexible with their change and cancellation policies to provide travelers with greater peace of mind. You’re also less likely to pay fees if you need to make last-minute adjustments to your schedule.
Airline Fee Waiver
You’ll see the most notable fee waivers when booking a flight. Namely, airlines no longer charge a change fee for standard cabin seats in economy and premium class. This can represent a potential savings of $ 100 per flight you pay.
Due to changes at the start of the pandemic, airlines are waiving change fees on the base economy fares that you book through December 31, 2020. From 2021, you will need to book a standard cabin fare to avoid modification fee. You will still pay the fare difference if your changed flight costs more than your original ticket. You may also need to change your flight reservation within one year of the date your ticket was originally purchased.
Exemption from hotel costs
Hotels are more stringent than airlines with waiver of cancellation fees. As the holiday season approaches, hotels no longer refund non-refundable bookings. While you might have to pay several dollars more per night for a refundable rate, the extra flexibility can be nice if you need to cancel your travel plans.
You may still be able to book a hotel package that waives some amenity and on-site parking fees. The World of Hyatt “Work from Hyatt” package can also help you save money as you can book a room and get a private workspace to encourage social distancing. You will need to call ahead to reserve your rate.
As fewer people are staying in hotels, you may decide to wait a short time before your travel dates to book a stay. Hotel vacancy rates are higher than usual this year, which bodes well for last-minute planners. However, you can choose to book early if you want to book a suite or redeem a free night certificate, as these special rates may be limited.
Hotels are also relaxing the cancellation deadline for refundable reservations. Instead of having to cancel at least 48 or 72 hours before the flight, you can have up to 24 hours before check-in. A few extra days can make a huge difference this holiday season.
Vacation Rental Fee Waiver
You may want the extra privacy of a vacation rental. Depending on the destination, there may still be a large inventory of vacation rentals available. But you will need to find a unit that has the right number of rooms and amenities for your family.
Additionally, vacation rentals tend to be more stringent than hotels. The cancellation policy varies by host, but you can review the policies of Airbnb, VRBO, and other rental platforms in advance. You may need to cancel at least 30 days prior to your scheduled arrival date to get a full refund.
As vacation rentals are popular, you should book your accommodation as early as possible to secure your home. However, you must first make sure that you are comfortable with the cancellation conditions.
This might be the best time to book your vacation flights and hotel rooms if you are comfortable traveling. There might be more free places and more hotel rooms if you decide to wait until the last minute to travel. As with other travel seasons, prices may be higher shortly before departure than booking at least a month before.
Are flights cheaper as Christmas approaches?
Flights for the Christmas travel season are generally at their lowest prices in October and November. Prices start to increase after Thanksgiving weekend and early December. The most expensive tickets are usually when you wait to book within 14 days of Christmas, unless you want to fly on a red-eyed flight with an unwanted flight schedule or stopover window.
When is the best time to book flights for Christmas?
The best month to book Christmas flights may be from late September to late October. Prices can be higher if you wait until November to book but still at relatively low levels. However, waiting until November to book means you may have fewer flights and seats to choose from.
Will vacation flight prices go down?
Airlines are less likely to cut prices further, as prices for flights for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are already below average. If you see a flight price and an itinerary you like, you can book now without worrying about paying too much. You must book a flight no later than 14 days before departure, as ticket prices tend to increase for close bookings.