Oh, the holidays! Even before decorations and seasonal items prematurely appear in stores, travelers have to start making their plans. It may seem silly to start preparing so far ahead, but when you’re talking about traveling on some of the busiest days of the year, advance booking is a very good idea.
That’s just one of the top tips on holiday travel from Tom Spagnola, CheapOair’s Travel Expert, who has more than 25 years of industry experience. He also recommends factoring in some extra time on the day of your flight to deal with the masses who are also flying.
When it comes to holiday travel, especially around thanksgiving, you’ll want to start preparing early to save both your money and your sanity. Spagnola shared his advice to help make holiday travel as cheap and stress free as possible.
When to Book Flights
“The sooner you book, the more affordable your flight will be,” he said. “Consumers should book their Thanksgiving travel now for the most affordable travel options. The longer you wait to book your travel, the higher tickets will be.”
If You’re Late to Book
“Flexibility is key when booking last-minute flights. For example, the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following Thanksgiving are typical travel days for people,” Spagnola said. That means those days are going to be in high demand. “If there are ways that the passengers could leave earlier the week of Thanskgiving or book return flights the following week, that would yield a tremendous cost savings to them.”
Other Tips for Saving on Flights
“Several major cities typically have two airports in them [and] a lot of the low-cost carriers will fly into the smaller airports, which can offer tremendous savings on your travel,” he said. “An example would be LAX as the major airport and Burbank Airport being smaller, but a much cheaper option. These airports are only 30 miles from each other.”
Where Should People Look for Cheap Flights?
“When searching and booking flights, use comparative websites like CheapOair, to compare a wide variety of flight options and airfare prices,” he said. Other comparative websites include Skyscanner, Kayak and Hipmunk, among others.
Managing the Crowds on Travel Day
“Arrive at the airport two hours ahead of your departure time to allow time to find your departure gate, navigate through the crowds and prepare for last minute gate changes,” Spagnola said. “If possible, consider flying out of a smaller airport to avoid holiday crowds.” He also suggested watching for notifications from the airline about delays or changes.
“Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the most crowded airport in the world, according to data collected by the Airports Council International,” he said. “This airport saw over 90 million passengers in 2014.”