Canadian travellers looking to cross the border for the upcoming festive season may be in for some sticker shock. A recent report from CheapAir.com shows an uptick in the average airfare prices for the 2023 holiday season.
Up, up, and away with holiday prices
Airfares around American Thanksgiving in late November have witnessed a 12% rise compared to 2022 prices, with Christmas and New Year's flights seeing similar hikes. As Canadians who often fly to the U.S. to celebrate with family or embark on holiday trips know, these elevated rates can heavily impact travel budgets.
Travellers at Toronto Pearson Airport.Valentino Visentini | Dreamstime
The study from CheapAir.com, which analyzed 11,000 airfares for flights during the holiday season, suggests travellers buy their tickets early to secure the best fares. Data from October 23 shows that the current fare stands at $338 USD, which is a slight relief compared to the $359 and $362 recorded the previous week and month, respectively.
For those considering the ideal time to book, a glance at the expected airfare fluctuations provides some guidance. Fares today have witnessed a sharp increase from September and are expected to climb progressively, peaking in December. This consistent ascent emphasizes the importance of early bookings to reduce the sting of steeper prices.
Turkey, tinsel, and ticket timing
Timing is crucial. For instance, Canadians eyeing an American Thanksgiving escape might want to consider flying out on November 20, the best-priced day before the holiday, and returning on November 24. Strategic planning could also offer savings, as November 22, the day of American Thanksgiving, is typically one of the most expensive days to fly. However, it is actually cheaper this year and can save travellers about $63 on average.
A Canadian passport and boarding pass.Photopal604 | Dreamstime
December's calendar also has opportunities for cost-effective planning. With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, the priciest days to take to the skies are the prior Friday and Saturday. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day promise relatively cheaper fares, potentially saving travellers close to $120 if departing on December 24, compared to the 22nd. And those celebrating the dawn of 2024 in the U.S. can consider flying on New Year's Day or the following Tuesday, with a $10 average price difference between the two.
For Canadians aiming to make the most of their holiday travels without breaking the bank, CheapAir.com has some time-tested advice. Booking flights two to three months in advance is recommended for securing lower fares, especially for domestic flights within the U.S. Flexibility in travel dates can also lead to potential savings. For example, travelling on non-peak days can mean fewer crowds and reduced chances of flight delays.
A plane takes of from the airport in Montreal.Michel Bussieres | Dreamstime
Another tactic is to explore mixed airline bookings. In some cases, reserving separate one-way flights is more cost-effective and offers more convenient travel schedules. Travellers looking for fewer disruptions might prefer early morning flights, which generally experience fewer delays and cancellations.
Travellers should watch out for extra fees, like baggage costs. Those additional costs can significantly increase the overall price of a ticket. And a critical piece of advice is to avoid last-minute bookings. Airfares tend to increase considerably 21, 14, seven, and three days before departure.
As the holiday season approaches, Canadians are reminded of the importance of strategic planning. With rising airfares, a little foresight and flexibility can go a long way in ensuring joyous reunions without the financial strain.