Holiday Travel Index 2018 - Hopper Research

Holiday Travel Index 2018

Patrick
By Patrick Surry
Posted Oct 22, 2018

UPDATED: OCTOBER 22, 2018

When To Fly & Buy This Holiday Season

If you've been procrastinating booking your holiday travel, you're not alone. Surprisingly, we found that last year only 61% of consumers had searched for Thanksgiving flights by November 1st. However, this week is your last chance to score bargains.


Our recommendation is to book your Thanksgiving and Christmas flights before Halloween, as prices will begin spiking in the month of November. As we stated in our earlier version of this report, Thanksgiving prices remain fairly stable through September and October. However, prices begin spiking in November.

Booking holiday flights can certainly be stressful because it feels like flight prices are always changing. In fact, we analyzed our historical flight archive and found that Thanksgiving flight prices will change an average of 102 times between now and November 22. Christmas flights will change in price 152 times between now and the holidays. If you're traveling to a popular destination (like LA or New York), your ticket could change price as many as 250 times between now and when you head to the airport.

Given the high level of price volatility around holiday flights, our team at Hopper analyzed our historical flight archive to put together some guidelines on how to save. However, the easiest way to score a deal is to download Hopper and set up trip-specific alerts so you'll know the instant you should book for your exact dates and destination.

- THANKSGIVING -


When To Fly & Buy

  • Domestic flight prices for Thanksgiving are currently averaging $321 round-trip.
  • Last year, late September brought the best deals. Between 15 - 25 days prior to departure, expect moderate increases of $3 per day. In the final two weeks, prices will start spiking by $7 per day.
  • You can save the most money by leaving on Thursday, November 22 and returning Wednesday, November 28. If you don't want to fly on Thanksgiving day, the next cheapest day to depart is Monday, November 19.

Last year, flight prices were cheapest around late September. As you can see in the graph below, however, prices remain fairly stable through October so you can put it off a bit and you won't pay too much more. In general, prices for Thanksgiving travel start high because travelers have little flexibility in terms of destinations and dates. Our recommendation is to book before the week of Halloween, as prices will begin spiking in the month of November.


Thanksgiving Flight Price Volatility

From the time tickets first become available, the average Thanksgiving flight price will change 102 times. If you're flying to one of the more popular destinations, however, the average ticket price will change 170 times.

To make sure you're not missing a deal, track your flights using the Hopper app now -- we'll send you a notification when it's time to buy.


Most Popular Thanksgiving Destinations

The most popular destinations for Thanksgiving this year are Los Angeles and New York City, with prices hovering around $300 round-trip.


- CHRISTMAS -

When To Fly & Buy

  • Domestic flight prices for Christmas are currently averaging $323 round-trip
  • Last year, mid-October brought the best deals. Christmas prices begin rising more gradually by $4 a day through November Then prices spike by $6 per day in the final two weeks.
  • You can save the most money by leaving on Tuesday, December 18 and returning Thursday, January 4. If you can't take off through the new year, the next cheapest day to return is Thursday, December 27.

Last year, flight prices were cheapest around mid-October. Flight prices for Christmas tend to rise more steadily than for Thanksgiving. You should consider booking your Christmas flights before your Thanksgiving flights. You should plan on having both trips booked by Halloween though. The good news when it comes to holiday travel is travelers tend to have more flexibility with their dates so there are opportunities to save by adjusting your dates.



Christmas Flight Price Volatility

From the time tickets first become available, the average ticket price will change 152 times. If you're flying to one of the more popular destinations, however, the average ticket price will change 250 times.

To make sure you're not missing a deal, track your flights using the Hopper app now -- we'll send you a notification when it's time to buy.


Most Popular Christmas Destinations

The most popular destinations for Thanksgiving this year are Los Angeles and New York City, with prices hovering around $350 round-trip.


Methodology

The Hopper app predicts future flight prices with 95% accuracy up to one year in advance of departure. Hopper collects ten to fifteen billion airfare price quotes every day, and has built a historical archive of several trillion prices over the past several years. By combining current prices with historical trends, Hopper can predict how prices are likely to change in the future.