HOUSTON – With Monday marking the first day of fall, it's time to start thinking about the holidays.
An analysis by AAA of ticket sales over the last three years revealed that Sept. 25 is the beginning of the best window to buy tickets for travel during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. This optimal window will last until Oct. 27.
The group recommends travelers avoid putting off booking their tickets to get the best deals and discounts.
"Procrastinating travelers may be able to find last-minute deals on flights close to the holidays, as airlines look to fill their last few remaining seats, but flight availability for these peak travel weeks will be very limited by that time," said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster in a press release Tuesday.
Don't leave it to chance: While travelers will get good average prices between Sept. 25 and Oct. 27, you can get the best price if you book tickets just seven to 13 days before Thanksgiving. But, since it's so soon before the holidays, these tickets can be really hard to come by.
Good days to travel: For the lowest price, the Monday before Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 25 this year, is the day to travel.
"For travelers more concerned about crowds than cost, Sunday before the holiday has the highest average price per ticket ($564), and is consistently the lightest travel day," the group wrote.
If you don't mind flying on Thanksgiving Day, you'll also get cheap tickets that day.
When to book tickets: While AAA says the sweet spot to book tickets for Christmas is also between Sept. 25 and Oct. 27, if you book tickets between Oct. 26 and Nov. 27, you're still likely to get good deals. Like Thanksgiving, the last-minute travelers will get the best price a week or two before Christmas, but limited availability makes it difficult to get tickets.
Best days to travel: This year, Christmas falls on a Wednesday. But regardless of which day it is, the average best travel days are two to four days before the holiday.
The busiest and most expensive days are Dec. 22 and 23 and the cheapest and least busy day is Christmas Eve.
"Many travelers opt to travel after the Christmas holiday leading up to New Year's, and they pay a premium to do so," AAA wrote. "Dec. 26 has the highest average ticket price of the week at $692."