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Here are the best and worst days to book flights for the holidays

There is still time to buy a ticket without breaking the bank.
FILE – People wait in a TSA line at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 28, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

Story at a glance

  • The holidays are just a few months away, and it’s always better to book flights earlier to save money.  

  • Phil Dengler, co-owner of the travel site The Vacationer, recommends booking Thanksgiving flights before Halloween for the best deal.  

  • Dengler also recommends securing a flight for Christmas by Thanksgiving at the latest to snag a cheaper ticket.  

Traveling around the holidays is a pain, but booking plane or train tickets can make getting to, or getting away from, loved ones a little less stressful.  

The busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday are typically the day before Turkey Day, Wednesday, Nov. 23, and the last day of the holiday weekend, Sunday, Nov. 27. So, those who hate traffic jams or crowds should avoid traveling on those days.  

For Thanksgiving travel, the cheapest tickets will be up for grabs in June or July, but there is still time to find a deal on airfare, according to Phil Dengler, co-owner of the travel site The Vacationer. 

“I view Halloween as the cutoff date for getting a reasonable price on a Thanksgiving flight but aim to get booked by the middle of September,” Dengler said in an email. “After Halloween, prices will increase considerably.”  

The same rule applies for plane tickets around Christmas time, but travelers should really give themselves a hard deadline before Thanksgiving to avoid shelling out hundreds of extra dollars.  

For cheaper flights and less hassle around Thanksgiving Dengler recommends flying out on these days: 

Sunday, Nov. 20 

Monday, Nov. 21 

Tuesday, Nov. 22 

Thursday, Nov. 24 ( Thanksgiving Day flights tend to be cheap) 

And coming home on these dates:  

Friday, Nov. 25 (Black Friday) 

Monday, Nov. 28 

Tuesday, Nov. 29  

Predicting the busiest travel days around Christmas is a little bit trickier. But Dengler expects these days to be the most hassle-filled travel days this December:

Thursday, Dec. 22 

Friday, Dec. 23 

Monday, Dec. 26 

Tuesday, Dec. 27  

Instead, Christmas travelers should consider flying out on these days for cheaper and less packed flights:  

Sunday, Dec. 18 

Monday, Dec. 19 

Tuesday, Dec. 20 

Saturday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve)  

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) 

And think about booking a flight on these days to come home to avoid the holiday rush:  

Wednesday, Dec. 28 

Thursday, Dec. 29