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The holidays are on the horizon and travel experts say those planning to travel shouldn’t put off shopping for airfare.
The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the demand for air travel, though on Sunday more than a million passengers traveled on planes for the first time since March, McClatchy News reported.
And while COVID-19 may have put a damper on holiday plans for some, others are still planning to travel during the holiday season. A survey from travel website Hopper found that 39% of respondents still planned to travel this year.
If you’re going to hop a flight to be with loved ones for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, travel website Hopper has a few tips for getting the best deal.
Start shopping now
Flight prices for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are lower this year, and to take advantage of them, Hopper said to start scanning for the best prices now. Book once you find the right price for you.
Buy by Halloween
If you aren’t sure what the holiday season might bring your way, that’s OK, you’ve still got some time. Hopper recommends booking by Halloween at the absolute latest to ensure you get the best price.
Thankfully, if you won’t be able to finalize your plans for a while, Hopper said it expects prices to stay low throughout the season.
Choose the right dates for your flight
If you’re planning to fly the week leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, be sure to choose the right day for the cheapest price.
Hopper anticipates Thanksgiving domestic round-trip flight prices to be lowest — an average of $163 — departing on Thanksgiving Day. Low prices are also projected for departures on Nov. 23, the Monday before Turkey Day, at an average of $169.
Prices are expected to be highest for departures the day before Thanksgiving — an average of $178.
Departures on Christmas Eve and Monday, Dec. 21, are expected to have the cheapest domestic round-trip flights in the week leading up to Christmas at an average $200 and $202, respectively, Hopper said.
Christmas flight prices are expected to peak for departures on Friday, Dec. 18, and Saturday, Dec. 19, with the average costs being $281 and $279, respectively, according to the site.
If your plans aren’t set in stone, but you’re still hoping for the best deal, Hopper recommends booking airfare that is refundable or can be changed.
Earlier this year, several airlines announced they’d be waiving change fees, including Alaska, American, Delta and United, CNBC reported.
Some still have loopholes, so be sure to check the airline’s policies before booking a flight you might change, Hopper said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against traveling for the holiday season, explaining that traveling increases your chances of getting COVID-19.
“I think the threshold for travel at this time should still be higher than before the pandemic,” Dr. Henry Wu, director of Emory TravelWell Center and associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, told CNN.
If you do travel, the CDC says to wear a mask when you’re in public and remain six feet away from anyone not in your household.
And be sure to wash or sanitize your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.