Demand for flights rockets over the Christmas period as people head overseas to make the most of their festive break. But choosing the dates of your flights carefully could save you hundreds of pounds.
When we looked in early December for the cheapest flights from a London airport to winter sun destinations, we found bargain hunters should definitely avoid the weekend before Christmas when demand is at its highest.
For each day and destination we looked online for the cheapest flight, regardless of the airline. The lowest fare we found to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt between 17 December and 2 January was £95 with Easyjet. But on the Sunday before Christmas the cheapest flight we could find was £469 with Monarch – a difference of £374.
If you are heading overseas during the festive season, take a look at our survey of the Best and Worst Airlines.
Finding the cheapest Christmas flights
Celebrating New Year’s Day on a plane may seem like a miserable idea but it could offer big savings. The £95 Sharm el-Sheikh flight mentioned above departed on 1 January. We also found New Year’s Day flights on Ryanair to Tenerife for as little as £33, whereas on New Year’s Eve the cheapest we found was £98 with Monarch, and on the Saturday before Christmas the cheapest was £275 – with Ryanair.
Flights on Christmas Day could also offer good value. We found a flight to Bangkok on 25 December for £572, which was £181 cheaper than flying on the same Thai Airways flight the Saturday before. But some airlines don’t operate at all on Christmas Day, so the cheaper options may not be available.
Fly early for cheap deals
If you do want to get away before Christmas, our snapshot found that prices start to rise on Thursday 20 December. If you can fly before then you may find cheaper prices.
We found a flight to Edinburgh with EasyJet for £30 on 18 December, after which the price increased daily to £95 on 22 December. And flights to Sharm el-Sheikh were £210 on 18 December, rising daily to reach £469 on 23 December.
On 4 December we used Skyscanner to compare the cheapest flights on any airline, departing from any London airport, between 8am and 2pm on each day between Monday 17 December and Wednesday 2 January to Edinburgh and three winter sun destinations – Tenerife, Bangkok and Sharm el-Sheikh.