Over the busy Christmas period, demand for flights is high as many people head overseas to make the most of their Christmas break. But choosing the dates of your flights carefully could save you hundreds of pounds.
In early December, we looked for the cheapest flights from a London airport to four popular Christmas destinations. Our snapshot investigation revealed that bargain hunters should avoid the weekend before Christmas when demand is at its highest.
For example, the lowest single fare we found to Orlando, Florida, between 16 December and 2 January was £474 with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick. But on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas the price on the same flight was £980 – more than double the price.
Similarly the cheapest flight (with just one stop) we found from London to Sydney, Australia, was £559, but on the Saturday before Christmas, the lowest price was £1,247.
To find out who to fly with over the festive season, take a look at our survey of the Best and Worst Airlines.
Finding the cheapest Christmas flights
While some people assume that the inconvenience of flying on Christmas Day will mean better prices, our snapshot found that this is not always the case. The cheapest flight to Edinburgh we found on 25 December was £173 – the most expensive Edinburgh flight we found over the Christmas period. Some airlines don’t operate on Christmas Day, so the cheaper options may not be available.
Celebrating New Year’s Day on a plane may seem like a miserable idea, but it could offer savings. EasyJet’s Edinburgh flight on 1 January was the cheapest we found. And Virgin Atlantic’s New Year’s Day flight to Orlando was also one of the cheapest we found for the Christmas period.
Fly early for cheap deals
If you do want to get away before Christmas, our snapshot found that prices start to rise around Thursday 19 December. If you can fly before then you may find cheaper prices.
We found a flight to Barcelona, Spain, for £36 on Monday 16 December, after which the price increased steadily to reach a peak of £110 on Sunday 22 December. And flights to Orlando were £778 on Wednesday 18 December, rising to £980 on Saturday 21 December.
On 2 December we used Skyscanner to compare the cheapest one-way flights on any airline, departing from any London airport on each day between Monday 16 December and Thursday 2 January to four popular Christmas destinations – Edinburgh, Barcelona, Orlando and Sydney.
- Christmas travel advice – make the most of your Christmas break
- Best and worst holiday companies – find out who to book with
- Hand luggage – make sure you travel with the best cabin luggage