8 Hacks You Must Know For Booking Holiday Flights
The fall and winter holiday season is the busiest time of the year for travel, which means more people are traveling and it can be trickier to score good flight deals.
This post will cover some of the best hacks for getting good deals on holiday flights, plus tips for making holiday travel easier!
1. Know when the most expensive days to fly are before you book.
This article from Matador says that the busiest travel days of the year (according to 2017 data) tend to be certain days of the week surrounding Thanksgiving, the Friday before Christmas, and January 2nd.
Check out their article for more info on specific dates, but know that once it hits the end of August/early September, the earlier the better.
So, if you haven’t yet booked your flights this holiday season…book now!
2. If you can fly on the actual holiday, flights may be cheaper.
Don’t forget about your airline miles/points to get great deals.
Not all points systems do blackout dates for the holiday season and you never know!
3. Set up price alerts.
This has helped me so much in the past as I’ve been able to jump on a flight price drop within minutes of receiving an email alert.
Kayak also has a price graph on their website based on historical data, suggesting whether to book now or wait.
4. Flexible date calendars give you an easy visual for lower cost flights.
For those of you who do travel hacking/award stacking with travel points, use the flexible dates calendar to consider alternative dates that may work with your schedule.
I saw that using the 30-day fare calendar with United’s award chart, flying the Tuesday after Thanksgiving will use significantly less points than the Sunday after.
Luckily I can work anywhere since I have a flexible schedule, but I honestly wouldn’t have thought of that had I not used the flexible date calendar.
Don’t know how airline miles and want to learn how? I highly recommend this online tutorial.
5. Check out apps like Hopper for more visuals.
Hopper is a popular app for flights since it also does price alerts and shows an upcoming color-coded calendar.
Honestly, the colors can definitely help you make a decision on whether or not to purchase a flight - you may think you’re getting a good deal after hours of being deep in flight-search-mode, but then the colors on the app may say so otherwise.
6. Get free checked bags if you’re eligible with a rewards program.
Especially if you are packing extra bulky layers for the winter or are carrying holiday gifts with you, you may want to check a bag for your flight during the holidays.
If you use a few different credit cards for travel hacking, see if any cover checked bag fees when using their card.
I have the United MileagePlus Explorer card and transfer 1:1 points from my Chase Sapphires to the MileagePlus program, and if the flight I’m booking is domestic (doesn’t include checked bags) then I’ll book it with the actual United card as well.
If I’m flying domestic on United and know that checked bags are typically not included, I’ll remember to use the United card instead of one of the others to book the flight as using that card will cover checked bag fees on United flights.
(If the whole 1:1 points thing or any of this is confusing to you, check out the tutorial I mentioned above)!
7. Red eyes may be terrible…but may be more affordable.
While it’s not ideal to fly on a red eye, sometimes you may find that they 1) are cheaper, and 2) would save you a night of accommodation (you wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel or Airbnb since you’ll be in the air overnight).
8. Tips for making red eye flights…somewhat bearable.
It isn’t always easy to try to get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed the next morning in your destination, but here are my tried-and-tested red eye hacks:
Melatonin - helps you get tired to you can fall asleep. You can find this over-the-counter at most pharmacies and grocery stores. Game changer.
Wear comfortable clothing - depending on the flight, sometimes I like to dress up in jeans or a comfortable maxi dress. On red eyes? Soft, warm, comfortable clothing will feel more like pajamas and allow you to sleep better. (You can always bring an outfit to change into at the airport after you arrive!)
I stand by these leggings (they’re my FAVORITE leggings for yoga and traveling! Comfy, durable, and have added elements to make them look dressier than your typical Lululemons),
a cozy knit sweater,
and a light scarf that can double as a blanket if the plane is chilly.
Moisturize - drink water, use face lotion (here’s my absolute favorite moisturizer - been using for YEARS), hand lotion, lip balm, and subtle essential oils if you like as flights can be dehydrating. Being hydrated when you arrive will make you feel a little more awake, too!
I hope you found these tips helpful!
Planning early and taking these cheap flight hacks and tips into consideration will make flying during the holidays easier and (hopefully!) less stressful!