A guide to booking flights for the holidays

A guide to booking flights for the holidays

Book flights on a Sunday, fly noon, and expect disruptions in January, say experts. 

Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation analysed flights over the past year to determine the best ways and times to book. Even the day you book can save you hundreds, especially over the holidays. Booking three months in advance will save you 30 percent on domestic travel, while six months can save you a quarter on foreign flights. January is a riskier month to fly than February. 

We searched for a week for Sydney-Cairns Jetstar flights for two adults and two children. Saturday, November 26: $194 one-way, $183 round-trip. Total: $377. Mondays are the most expensive at $334 out and $218 back. $552 apiece. 

To get to Far North Queensland for Christmas, the cheapest option is $334 each way at 6am. Double the price for a social event. Meanwhile, we checked April Qantas flights to London. Two adults and two children return $9,748. 

Next month, November 12 for three weeks costs $12,123, proving Expedia’s advise to book six months in advance. It costs $28,291 for a family of four to spend three weeks in London over Christmas and New Year. 

Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, said it’s also about saving time. Capacity is at 116% and there are more seats than in 2019, according to a report. As airlines seek to return to pre-pandemic levels, international capacity is 77%. Flights are most likely to be delayed between 3pm and 9pm in the afternoon. Domestic flights were 20% cheaper on Saturdays than Mondays.For international flights, Friday departures save 10% on average. 

ARC’s Chuck Thackston said the numbers imply travel is normalising. Business travelers are also returning. Expedia Senior Director Daniel Finch said Christmas travelers should book soon. If flights are scarce, he said, keep seeking. “Airlines are constantly altering flight capacity to meet demand, so keep an eye on airfares,” Finch said. 

If you’re prepared to stay home for Christmas, you can economise by delaying your vacation until February, when costs drop following school vacations, he said.

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