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If you can hold off on traveling until winter, you could save as much as 80% on airfare

Last-minute airfares are expected to be better, too

Photo (c) Santiago Urquijo - Getty Images
Booked your Christmas or New Year’s flights, yet? Get ready to pay dearly. Scott Keyes at Scott’s Cheap Flights says Christmas is the most expensive time to travel. 

“It’s no secret that winter holidays aren’t a cheap time to travel, but December 18 through January 7 is probably the single most expensive three-week period of the entire year,” he told ConsumerAffairs.

“On occasion, there are cheap flights during this stretch, but the best deals—like $252 roundtrip to the Bahamas over Christmas—were available six months ago, not for last-minute purchase.”

Examples? Sure – here’s some that Keyes gave ConsumerAffairs and some we found on our own at Google Flights. Note: these prices were valid at the time of this article being published, but since airfares are based on inventory, things could change quickly.

Seattle to Honolulu: Dec 23-30: $1,078...Jan 16-23: $198

Atlanta to New York City (NYC): Dec 23-30: $271… Jan 15-22: $88

Los Angeles to Boston: Dec 22-29: $889...Jan 11-18: $138

Nashville to Paris: Dec 20-28: $1,913…Jan 18-24: $608

Cincinnati to Phoenix: Dec 22-29: $398…Jan 18-25: $138

NYC to Dublin: Dec 21-28: $1,660...Jan 9-16: $406

Charlotte to San Francisco: Dec 21-28: $399…Jan 17-24: $145

Houston to Cancún: Dec 27-Jan 3: $852...Jan 17-24: $191

Early 2023 will be a lot cheaper

If the price of airfare is a deal breaker, you might want to think about going early in the new year. Just like candy going on sale right after Halloween, Keyes said the same holds true with flights every year after Christmas and New Year, making January and February the cheapest months of the year.

“What makes winter so strange and delightful is the swing—virtually overnight on January 8 or so—from the most expensive three-week period to the two absolute cheapest months of the entire year,” he said, pointing out that pushing your trip back from Christmas time to mid-January could save you as much as 80%.

Another plus for going in early 2023 is that there are significantly more last-minute options.

“Cheap last-minute Christmas flights are oxymoronic. Cheap last-minute January flights are not just real, they’re spectacular,” Keyes said. “And they’re abundant right now. In fact, for procrastinators, there’s probably no better time all year to get a cheap late ticket than for travel in January or February.”

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