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5 tips for 2017 holiday air travel, including why you should book now

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A passenger walks past Christmas decorations at O'Hare Airport, in Chicago, Sunday Dec. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Booking flights 54 days before your trip will generally give you the best price, according to's annual airfare study. However, traveling during the holiday season can be an entirely different game.

Flights around Thanksgiving and Christmas can cost as much as 75 percent more than non-holiday flights. So when is the best time to buy? Here are some tips from the experts.

1. When to book

According to airfare prediction app Hopper, waiting until October, which falls within the 54-day rule, to book your flights for Thanksgiving won't cost you much extra as long as you book before the week of Halloween. Once November hits, prices will begin rising by about $1 per day. That changes to $10 per day during the two weeks before Thanksgiving, according to Hopper's 2017 holiday travel index.

When it comes to Christmas flights, however, Hopper says its data suggests booking about 83 days before departure, which was the first week of October.

Travel site Orbitz disagrees. It lists Oct. 20 as the day on which travelers might find the best deals for Christmas flights. To save the most money, Orbitz recommends booking your Thanksgiving flights on Thursday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 4 for New Year's Eve flights.

Thanksgiving Travel

Passengers rush through New York's Penn Station to catch their train, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Millions of Americans are returning home Sunday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

2. Thanksgiving: The best and worst days to fly

The most expensive — and busiest — day to depart for Thanksgiving is Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to Hopper. When returning home, try to avoid the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Hopper says you can save $161 by returning home on Wednesday instead. suggests departing Nov. 19-20 and returning on the Friday or Saturday following Thanksgiving for the best deals.

Thanksgiving Travel

Passengers stand beneath an electronic signboard in New York's Penn Station as they wait to board a train, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Millions of Americans are returning home Sunday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

3. Christmas: The best and worst days to fly

Hopper recommends being flexible in order to the have the best experience flying over Christmas. The least expensive days for departures fall on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Tuesday, Dec. 19. Compared to the most expensive departure date — Friday, Dec. 22 — traveling on those dates could save about $110. Thursday, Jan. 4, is the cheapest day for return flights. It will save about $97 compared to traveling on New Year's Day, the most popular day for returns.

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Pictures of the Week Photo Gallery

Pedestrians make their way through the arrival terminal as bags are delivered on a carousel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Atlanta, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

4. Be prepared to spend more than last year

The average price for a round-trip domestic flight for Thanksgiving is currently $325, according to Hopper. Last year is was $288.

High Fliers Living Large

This Oct. 28, 2011 photo shows the new first class interior section of a United Airlines 747 plane at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

5. Look beyond the price tag

While cost is likely the biggest concern for many travelers, Airfare Watchdog president George Hobica suggests considering other factors, such as comfort and convenience.

"The sooner you book the more likely you’ll get your aisle seat and sit next to your friends or love ones," he said. "The later you book it’ll be a middle seat on the 5:30 a.m. departure or the connecting red eye flight."


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