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Holiday travel: Is now the time to book airline tickets?

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Holiday travel: Is now the time to book airline tickets?

Experts say if you’re looking to travel for the 2023 holiday season, it’s best to start monitoring flight prices now.  

But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily book anything just yet. 

Airline prices for travel over the Christmas holiday are already tracking as high as last year, according to recent data from travel app Hopper. Prices are already 20% higher than what pre-pandemic holiday fares were at this time of the year, according to Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper.  

“Mid-summer may feel early to start thinking about holiday travel, but Christmas in July is the perfect time to start planning your trips home or a vacation over the holidays,” Berg said. 

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Travelers make their way to their departure gates as they leave for the Fourth of July holiday at LAX in Los Angeles June 29, 2023.  (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Travelers should start tracking prices, but Berg said they shouldn’t book anything yet given that prices will be extremely volatile, rising and falling multiple times a day over the next two to three months.

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Hopper data shows fares for holiday travel will remain high throughout the summer and drop slowly into September and October, which is known as “shoulder season.” 

The best time to book flights is during September and early October because prices are typically $100 cheaper than mid-summer prices, according to Hopper. 

Los Angeles International Airport California

A Spirit Airlines plane taxis at Los Angeles International Airport June 1, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Clint Henderson, managing editor of travel website The Points Guy, agrees that holiday travelers need to start doing their research now. However, he said travelers eyeing domestic trips over the holidays should “be prepared to book if you see a deal.” 

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He suggested travelers looking into international holiday trips should start to book or at least start tracking prices now through September. 

“Demand will continue to be absolutely bonkers for the holidays,” Henderson said. 

American Airlines plane

An American Airlines plane takes off from the Miami International Airport July 20, 2023, in Miami, Fla.  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

However, airlines, Henderson said, don’t have the pricing power they did a year ago. 

He noted that airlines have added capacity, which “means more seats for sale, which leads to slightly lower prices.” 

At the same time, Henderson said not to expect deep discounts for holiday fares as “peak holiday dates are always higher than normal.”

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