Complaining about traveling during the holiday season is an American past-time as cherished as baseball or apple pie for a reason: it's damn hard to find affordable options to travel anywhere during late December, a period of time when you're generally spending more money than usual on things like a present for your Aunt Susan (who you got a gift card to Michael's because you haven't seen her in four years and you think she likes crafts?). Flight prices skyrocket during the busiest days of the holiday season — but finding inexpensive airfare during the holiday season isn't impossible. If you prepare in advance and do a lot of searching, you can probably end up getting something that works for your budget. Luckily, there are apps for cheap holiday airplane tickets that you can download right now to help you out.
The first thing to remember when looking for cheap airfare is that you have to be patient and keep your options open. If you're looking for a flight on a specific day at a specific time with a specific airline, you're likely going to have a harder time finding a good deal. But if you're able to be flexible about when you travel and which airline to go with, you're going to have an easier time finding something affordable. You should also do some searching around before you opt to purchase the first tickets you see.
Here are a few apps that make that process easier and more streamlined. Download them now and start thinking about holiday travel as early as possible!
Skyscanner is a website, of course, but it also comes in an app. A perpetual favorite for those seeking travel deals, Skyscanner compares hundreds of flights that are both domestic and international, allows users to mix and match flights from different airlines, and also gives users a look at the best prices for flights leaving the airport of their choice.
Their handy chart design makes it easy to see all of the cheap available options out there, which is really great if you're very open to your destination and just want to go somewhere affordable. The Best Deals of the Month feature really makes it easy to explore, even during the expensive holiday season.
If you're not able to be flexible about your holiday travel, then Hopper might not be the app you're looking for. But if you can play around with when and where you're going, it's worth looking at. The app analyzes and looks at flight data to see when prices will be lowest, then alerts you with deals when they pop up.
There's also a Watch This Trip feature that lets you know if the price changes and a price predictor feature that looks at when and if the price will change. That means you can decide if you want to book right away, or wait for a day where the price might go even lower. Even easier? You can book right in the app.
Here's what makes Hipmunk stand out: it also looks at how annoying a flight path can be. If you're someone who values convenience just as much as price, then Hipmunk is for you. It can sort results based on what they call "Agony," which looks at the price, but also how many stops there are, how long the flights are, and the general on-time performance of the airline. You can also filter your searches by what the airlines offer, so if you're looking for a flight with free WiFi, you can find that.
Of course, Hipmunk is about finding low prices, but it acknowledges that sometimes saving $50 isn't worth it for everyone if that means they'll have significantly less legroom or they'll be experiencing a long layover.
Like most of the other apps on this list, Momondo lets you look at the price options for flights to specific destinations and the cheapest price options if you're willing to be flexible about your destination (that's the "Anywhere Search" which is great for anyone who just wants to take a trip somewhere affordable this holiday season).
As for those who know they need to go to a specific place to see their family, Momondo is still useful: the easy-to-read price calendar allows you to look at the price of flights over the course of a few days if you can change when you're leaving. And the price guarantee is great: if you book a ticket then find a better deal in 24 hours, you'll get a refund.
The advantage of using Travelzoo is that they do offer some privately listed flight deals that you can't find elsewhere. The other advantage is that it's helpful for your whole trip. Once you've arrived at your destination, you can use the app for deals on restaurants, outings, and more.
KAYAK is another app that offers private deals you won't find anywhere else, especially if you book via the mobile app, which is a nice incentive to download it. There aren't any crazy features, and it basically just looks at the most affordable airfare depending on the information you put in the search engine. Still, it works, and it's easy to use, which is almost more important.
It's also great for booking more than just airfare. You can find hotel and car rental rates as well, and it has tools to help you track your flight, add flights to a watchlist, and alert you if prices decrease. A nice feature of the app is the trip organization guide, which keeps all of your info in one place and allows you to create destination guides.
You can use Hitlist to search for flight prices to specific places, although it's really great for exploring different destinations. There's an Explore tab that shows all the different and popular options out there. But if you have a place in mind, add it to your Hitlist tab to get updated with price drops.
While Hitlist is free, there's a premium version of the app that starts at $3 a month and allows you to view members-only deals. It also gives you access to a personal travel planner that could be very useful.
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