Airports, Airlines, Aviation

Christmas travel update 2016

This week’s blog is a Christmas travel update for you to prepare for your holiday season flights and airport experiences. That includes information about when to book your flight (if you’ve already waited until the last minute) and also which days will be the busiest this year. Cheapair has done a nice job rolling up some of these statistics here as well.

Best Day for Booking Christmas Travel

If you didn’t book your Christmas travel on that magical day in mid-October where the fares dipped really low, it’s probably just going to get worse until 24 Dec or so. Then, there’s a chance that airlines will slash fares to fill remaining seats right before Christmas. So consider your Christmas travel on 25 December itself if you have some flexibility (you can still make it in time for Christmas dinner). What we see from the data is that there’s a fare increase on average (across 11,000 flights) of $22, and an increase of $84 from last month. We expect fares to increase another $35 or so until they level off right before Christmas.

Christmas travel update - when to book
Christmas travel update – when to book

Cheapair has further broken down these predictions in the coming weeks. As usually, traveling on Tuesdays (e.g. 20 December) do typically offer a fare break (and Tuesday to Tuesday is even better). 25 December is confirmed as the cheapest day to fly and New Year’s Day also offers a significant value (and of course you can wait after 2 January fares will come down as well). Days to avoid? December 26th and January 2nd are the most sought after and obvious Christmas travel days, and therefore have correspondingly higher fares.

Best days to fly for Christmas travel
Best days to fly for Christmas travel

In the US, airports are going to be busy this Christmas travel season – 45.2 million holiday passengers are expected this year, breaking out to 73,000 additional passengers per day. According to Airlines for America (A4A), this will be a 3.5% increase over last year. To keep up with demand, the supply side is increasing inventory and flights. For example, US airlines will add 99,000 additional seats per day from Dec. 16 – Jan. 5 (an increase of 3.9% from last year).

The five busiest US airports during the Christmas travel season will be:

  1. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL)
  2. Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  3. Los Angeles International (LAX)
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW)
  5. Denver International (DEN)

The busiest travel days for Christmas travel? Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.

The least busy travel days? Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

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