Expedia Holidata: 21 Million Americans to Fly in Fourth Quarter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Air Fare Higher This Year

American Travelers Gravitating to Warm Weather Destinations During 2014 Holidays

Oct 20, 2014, 08:00 ET from Expedia.com

BELLEVUE, Wash., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Booking data from Expedia.com®, one of the world's largest full service online travel sites1, reveals that 21 million Americans are expected to fly from October through December, either for holiday festivities, to a sunny beach locale or somewhere in between.* U.S. domestic seat capacity is expected to be up over three million seats during the busiest travel season of the year, according to OAG.**

One-half of all air tickets for the Christmas holiday are sold between October and November, making these two months an expensive time to book airfare. Domestic Thanksgiving flight fares are up 17% percent, averaging $467 this year versus $400 in 2013. Christmas flights are also more expensive than the year prior, but the fare rise is more modest. Flights over Christmas averaged $482 in 2013 and are averaging $493 in 2014, a 2% hike.

"On a practical level, securing a less expensive flight leaves more money to spend elsewhere during the holiday season," said Expedia Senior Editor Sarah Gavin. "There are still great deals to be found. Start looking now and use smart booking tips, such as being flexible with airports and dates, and also looking at flight and hotel packages."

  • Expand your search to neighboring airports. On one of Expedia's most popular routes for Christmas in 2013 (LA to NYC), the average ticket price from LAX to JFK was $565, but for the LAX to LGA route, the average ticket price was $492. And LGA is miles closer to Manhattan than JFK.
  • Mix and match travel dates. For Christmas, a high number of people are looking to travel on December 21, which is one of the most expensive days to travel. While traveling on Christmas Day itself will yield terrific deals, this is impractical for many people who are not Santa Claus. Traveling on December 23-24 may yield lower fares.
  • Bundle. Book airfare and hotel as a package and save up to $540.

Trending: Destination Christmas

Perhaps in response to 2013's harsh winter, 2014 travelers are gravitating to the sun during this holiday season. Of the top ten destinations for air travel, 50% are warm-weather destinations and 30% are cold-weather.

The most highly-shopped hotel destinations during the 2014 holiday season can be found in warm-weather destinations, including:

  1. Orlando
  2. Cancun
  3. New York
  4. Riviera Maya
  5. Punta Cana

This year, for tickets booked to date, top destinations for air travel for the Christmas holiday include:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. New York
  3. Orlando
  4. Denver
  5. Phoenix
  6. Fort Lauderdale
  7. San Francisco
  8. Seattle
  9. Chicago
  10. Miami

Gobbling up the Good Seats: Thanksgiving Travel
For Thanksgiving, travelers tend to wait a bit longer to book flights than for the Christmas holiday. Last year, two-thirds of total flights for the Thanksgiving holiday were booked in October and November. 

Both in 2012 and 2013, the busiest travel day for Thanksgiving travel was the day before Thanksgiving. To save money (and sanity), Expedia's Sarah Gavin recommends traveling the Monday before Thanksgiving. 

This year, for tickets booked so far, top destinations for air travel for the Thanksgiving holiday include:

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Orlando
  4. Chicago
  5. Phoenix
  6. Washington, DC
  7. San Francisco
  8. Boston
  9. Dallas
  10. Denver

*As of June 30th. All flight data based on bookings on E.com for domestic, standalone, round trip flights in 2013 or 2014.  Christmas travel dates were set between 12/18-25 and Thanksgiving travel dates were for the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day. Hotel Shopped data is based on customers searching for Standalone hotels for stays starting between 12/18-25/14.

**Domestic U.S. seat capacity is up 1.6% (+3.4 M seats) and worldwide seat capacity is up 5.7% (+60M seats) for Q4 (source:  OAG). 

About Expedia.com
Expedia.com is one of the world's largest full service travel sites1, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. Expedia.com (http://www.expedia.com/, 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of top vacation destinations, cheap tickets, hotel deals, car rentals, destination weddings, cruise deals and in-destination activities, attractions, services and travel apps. With the Expedia Best Price Guarantee, Expedia.com customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.

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1Based on a comparison of other full-service online travel agencies, defined as those providing booking and services related to air, hotel, cruise, car and activities to a global customer base. Data based on comScore Media Metrix for Expedia, Inc. Sites, Worldwide, Average Monthly Unique Visitors, Oct '12-Sept '13.

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