If you are still looking for flights during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, time is running out for deals. Hipmunk, a relatively new travel search site, explored historical flight data and found that people who book on or before Nov. 11 could pay an average of $266 less than those who wait until December. Veteran travel site Travelocity similarly reported that travelers should book holiday flights by Nov. 12 for best prices, based on its own analysis.
"During past years, the trend has been for prices to spike six weeks before the holiday. This year, that date is Nov. 13," said Travelocity senior editor Courtney Scott.
Domestic fares are up 7.5 percent for travel during the holidays compared to last year, Travelocity found, with the average round-trip ticket costing $450. Flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International are bucking the trend, though, with the average round-trip price for flights out of MSP at $511, down 4.7 percent from last year. Routes with competition probably account for the drop. Prices on Los Angeles flights fell a whopping 27 percent; Phoenix flights are down 23 percent.
Beyond buying tickets by Tuesday — and having the good fortune of flying out of MSP — what can travelers do to save money? Scott made these recommendations: Be flexible with travel dates. Take the first flight (and often cheapest) of the day. In areas with more than one airport (New York City and L.A. come to mind), compare prices. Fly on the morning of the holiday.
Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein made another suggestion: People traveling short distances should consider the train. (Conveniently, Hipmunk displays prices for Amtrak trains along with flight price info.)
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg