If you want to save money on airfare for winter travel, then book it now. Post-pandemic demand is likely to stay elevated through 2021, which means that prices for seats will only get more expensive as we approach peak travel season. By “opposite season” shopping now for winter fares, you’re more likely to get a good deal. Here’s what you need to know.
Why fares are looking to be more expensive this winter
Normally, you’d already want to book airfares for holiday travel early, when tickets for flights tend to be less scarce. Exactly how early? Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights suggests a “Goldilocks Window” of three to six months for domestic flights and three to 10 months for international travel.
However, since many people skipped domestic air travel last holiday season due to the pandemic, expect heightened demand for airfares as more people are planning to reunite with their families later this year. Fares for international travel will also be in high demand, as borders in Asia and Europe are currently either closed or only just beginning to open to non-essential travelers for the first time since the height of the pandemic.
Plus, many airlines have done away with change fees, so you don’t have to worry as much about waiting for the perfect deal. That means that you can snag a flight now, then change it later at no cost if a better deal comes along later, as you’ll be given the difference in price back as a credit (exceptions apply: read this Value Penguin article for more detailed information for each airline). That all said, you’re still likely to get a really good price on a flight now since you’re booking early.
Also, when looking for a flight, remember that sometimes two one-way fares can be cheaper than round trip tickets (not always, but it’s worth a look). And since most travelers like to be home for the weekend, The Points Guy recommends including a Saturday night stay on round-trip tickets, as the fare will likely be cheaper.