Posted: December 07, 2017
By Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Only Santa can take reindeer-powered flights at Christmas; everyone else taking to the skies must rely on plane travel. Whether you're flying home for the holidays or heading on a holiday getaway, Christmas airfare deals are probably high on your wish list.
To find Christmas airfare deals, refer to KAYAK's 2017 Holiday Hacker Guide and take advice from travel experts. Here are the top 6 ways to get the best holiday airfare deals.
Fly on Christmas Eve. If you wait until Christmas Eve to depart, KAYAK data shows you can score some of the best deals. It's sort of surprising, but Kayak also shows really good deals for those who agree to fly on the big day itself, whether arriving or departing.
This year's Guide's "When to Book" section showed median airfares to expect based on anticipated arrival and departure dates for the Christmas holiday. The prices are based on last year’s data. A few of the best median airfares are as follows:
$351 departing Dec. 20 and returning Dec. 25
$354 departing Dec. 21 and returning Dec. 25
$358 departing Dec. 23 and returning Dec. 25
$346 departing Dec. 24 and returning Dec. 25
$359 departing Dec. 24 and returning Dec. 26
$234 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 25
$338 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 27
$352 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 28
Book your flights before expected price increases. You’ve probably found that airfares fluctuate on different dates each time you fly. A general rule of thumb for Christmas airfare deals is to expect fares to increase 21, 14 and again seven days before departure, according to Google Flights.
Score a great airfare deal to Nordic countries. KAYAK's list of Wallet-Friendly International Flights had Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavík at the top. If the cold is cool with you, those great flight prices apply to Christmas airfare deals, too. Plus, late December is a great time to catch holiday festivities in Stockholm or view the northern lights in Oslo.
Pick a wallet-friendly North American destination. If you aren't gathering with family for the holidays (intentionally or unintentionally), save some money with one of KAYAK's Top 10 Wallet Friendly North American Flights to a Christmas vacation: Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Calgary or Seattle.
Choose a spot that's not trending to spend Christmas or New Year's. Google Flights compared 2016 and 2017 flight searches between June 6 and Sept. 20 and came up with these North American destinations as the top trending for Christmas 2017: Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Lisbon, Bogota, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Brussels. It may seem counterintuitive, but avoiding those destinations for the Christmas holidays may mean cheaper airfare to the places you do select. If you're flexible with holiday getaway plans, consult the Google Flights Explore Map to find airfare and vacation bargains.
Don't save money at the expense of your happy holiday. Some other tactics may be easier on your flight bill, but will put you at higher risk of ruining your holiday, noted the Air Fare Watchdog blog. The travel expert said you could save money on peak holiday travel by taking connecting flights rather than nonstop, "but since winter weather can foul up connections, you're better off splurging for the nonstop."
While it's tempting to grab the last seat on an inconvenient flight time closer to the holidays, Air Fare Watchdog also recommended booking early for anyone who won't enjoy the flight at all without their preferred seating. "This is especially true if there are several of you flying together and you don't want to all end up sitting far apart from each other," noted the blog.
Holiday travel with kids can be a challenge. Whether you’re driving or flying, normal routines are interrupted, and challenges such as traffic jams or delayed flights can lead to boredom and fussy children. A little preparation can go a long way to making a holiday trip with kids go more smoothly. The following tips from sources such as Parents, Reader’s Digest and the AJC will help everyone keep their sanity when embarking on holiday travel with kids. Pack ahead of timeIf you’re stressed at the start of your trip, you could be setting the tone for your entire first day. If possible, have everything packed the night before so you’re not rushed and cranky when you’re starting your trip. Prepare some snacksEven adults can get cranky when they’re hungry, so why should kids be any different? Be prepared with snacks like cereal, pretzels, granola bars or string cheese and have them easily accessible in the car or on the plane. Water is also a good choice for a drink, since kids aren’t likely to guzzle more than they need. If you’re flying, you can pick these items up at an airport store after you’ve gone through security. Bring some distractionsHelp your child pack some small, quiet toys, books, a small box of crayons, paper and a favorite stuffed animal or blanket for the trip. These will help keep them busy and offer comfort in unfamiliar places or situations. Let kids help planAllow children to have input on sightseeing when making travel plans. Maintaining a child’s interest can make for smoother travel. Let kids choose their own entertainment when traveling. On long road trips, try to find points of interest along the way if you have time. On the road Prepare for emergenciesIf you’re hitting the road for a long trip, have your mechanic check your car out before you go. Few things can ruin a trip faster than a breakdown along the way. While you’re at it, also pack a basic first aid kit, a flashlight and jumper cables. Get enough sleepThis advice holds true for both parents and kids. If everyone is sleep-deprived, they’re likely to be cranky. And if you’re driving, you’ll need to be as alert as possible. Use Pull-UpsFor those with very young children, you may want to use Pull-Ups even If they are potty-trained. If you’re stuck in traffic and are miles away from the nearest bathroom, they can provide an emergency back-up. The same goes for flying, during takeoff and landing when passengers are not allowed out of their seats. Take frequent breaksStop every couple of hours if you’re on a long road trip. This can give kids a chance to stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Prepare for messesHave an extra change of clothes for everyone, as well as wipes and resealable plastic bags. Traveling with kids often means dealing with a diaper blowout, car sickness or other unexpected mess. Point out the sightsHoliday travel with kids can involve some long, boring stretches, but they can often enjoy mundane sights like a funny billboard and farms with cows and horses. If it’s a long trip, your child may also enjoy seeing changes in terrain along the way. In the air Fly early in the morning if possibleEarly flights are less likely to experience delays, and they’re often less crowded. With any luck, your kids will end up napping for part of the flight. Dress in layersYou’ll be outdoors, in the airport and in the airplane cabin, so your child can experience a wide variety of temperatures. Dressing in layers can allow him or her to add or slip off a jacket or another layer if necessary. Make sure you’re sitting togetherSince computers assign seats, make sure you’re sitting together before you board the plane. Be sure to check and sort it out before boarding begins. Board earlyParents with young children are sometimes allowed to board the plane before other passengers, so you can have a minute to let your kids check out the seat, window shades and bathroom. You’ll have the chance to get settled in and not feel like you’re in such a rush. Keep it cleanWipe down surfaces that can harbor germs, like trays. Also carry along hand sanitizer to use before eating or in other cases where germs can easily be transmitted. Don’t pull out everything at onceDon’t pull out your child’s entire stash of snacks and entertainment right when you’re seated. Most kids will find flying to be exciting at first. Once they’re been in the air a while and have become bored, then you can reach for the toys and food.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
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