Fall has only just begun, and yet the festive season seems right around the corner, crowded airports, overbooked flights and all. 

Woman waiting for a flight, watching a runway from a departure board: © urbazon/Getty Images
It's an evergreen question: when's the best time to buy your holiday flights? Image © urbazon/Getty Images

The question of when to buy airfare around the holidays is a fraught one, but Adobe Analytics recently released a report that should take some of the guesswork out of the equation. The bottom line? Thanksgiving flights are expected to be cheaper this year than last, and if you haven’t booked yet, sit tight – you’ll save almost 10% if you hold off until the first week in November. But don’t wait too long! According to Adobe’s data (sourced from more than one trillion website visits, including travel sites, from 2018 to 2019), prices will jump as much as 14% the week before the holiday. 

“I think people assume that booking now would end up saving them some money, but last year’s data model doesn’t support that,” managing analyst Vivek Pandya told the Adobe Blog. “If you are still in the market to book flights, that first week of November is really the sweet spot.”

High angle shot of a dining table laid out for Thanksgiving
Pro tip: turkey tastes better if you haven't forked out an arm and a leg to get home for the holiday. Image © PeopleImages/Getty Images

November is also the time to look ahead to New Year’s: the analysis found the best deals 55 days ahead of the holiday, on 6 November. When it comes to Christmas, though, the stats say you’re better off waiting until the first week of December for an anticipated 13% price drop, but again, prices are likely to go back up the week before the holiday, so you won’t want to procrastinate. 

Of course, there’s only so much insight a data set can provide – and other studies have forecast slightly different results. Expedia, for example, recommends hitting the buy button between 29 October and 13 November for the best Thanksgiving fares, and between 23 November and 9 December for Christmas deals. Hipmunk, on the other hand, says you’ve already missed your window for the best bargains – booking during the first week of September would’ve saved you an average of 12% on Thanksgiving and Christmas flights – but agrees that the first week of November will be the next best time to buy. 

Regardless, the usual rules to flight-buying apply: shop around, set up price alerts, and be ready to pull the trigger when a good fare presents itself. The only thing worse than spending too much of your precious vacation time in the airport is knowing you overpaid for the privilege. 

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