When should I book my Hawaiian Christmas flights?
March 14, 2012 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best time to book a flight from NYC to Honolulu for Christmas -- I'm afraid I've already missed the best deals and wonder if I should snatch up the next decent fare or wait for something better. [Of course, special snowflake details inside.]

TL;DR: I'm wondering if I should buy now, or whether the experienced Hawaiian travelers among you think fares will go down as it gets to that magical 3-4 months-before-travel window all the articles advise.

-I had what I'm realizing is a great price (I think it was $950ish with fees?) through Hawaiian Air a few weeks ago, but while I waited a few days to see if it would drop anymore, it jumped up by to over $1500.

-Hawaiian Air is partnering with Jet Blue starting in June; do you think that will affect prices once it happens? Hawaiian already has those flights listed [i.e., they have no NYC-HNL flights until the partnering date, so the ones listed must be the Jet blue flights] and the prices have been fluctuating (rising, for Christmas week flights) already.

-I need to fly from 12/22 to 12/30 [I *could* fly the 23rd or 29th, but I'd be losing a day of Hawaiian Vacation, and I *could* fly the 21st but it would have to be enough cheaper to cover the night in a hotel (my family is sharing a house but we can't get in until the 22nd).]

-It's easiest for me to fly out of JFK, but LGA is fine...I'd much rather avoid Newark, but if it saves me $100+ I could do it.

Again, summarizing the big question: Considering I'll be flying around Christmas, and considering the popular vacation destination, does anyone predict that prices will go down at any point in the future, or should I just grab the next reasonable fare I see?
posted by bah213 to Travel & Transportation around Honolulu, HI (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm from California, so I don't know how useful I'll be, but I go to Hawaii every winter than I can pull it off.

The long and short of it is that I have never seen any great deals during student breaks. There is so much student exchanges between California and Hawaii on student breaks, including Christmas, that the prices really sky rocket. I always end up waiting til mid January because the prices are so much cheaper.

That said, I have invariably gotten the best rates by haunting the Hawaiian Airlines website. As you've probably noticed, they have a great section on their page that lists the current lowest price available each day. Take advantage of your (5 hour?) time difference- if you check first thing in the morning, Hawaiians and we west coasters won't even be awake yet when the new deals get posted!

Once, and only once, was I seduced by a $50 difference in fare with United and it was awful. Pay the extra for Hawaiian. They are great. They suck on the phone, but in person they rock.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2012

If you can go before the 21st, it might save enough $$ to be worthwhile. My family & I went to Hawaii this last Christmas, and there was a dramatic difference in price the closer you got to the 25th. We ended up flying out the 19th and staying till the 29th, and bought our tickets in August/September.
posted by mogget at 12:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know specifically about Hawaii and Christmas, but as a general rule of thumb this is too early to book. This is the time frame for the really-really-wanna-go-then people, who will pay high prices. Airlines don't usually plan out there whole timetable until 6 months in advance. From 6 months out, prices may dip towards 3 months unless demand is strong, before going up to catch the late bookers. It is hard to tell now what effect the airlines think the recession will be having at Christmas, and how many passengers they hope to carry. I would bet on being able to get a better price later.

I would also think it very likely that travelling earlier will gain you enough money for a night in a hotel. You will then have more energy for moving into the hired place and buying food etc.
posted by Idcoytco at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2012

I know you said you're not thrilled with Newark, and as mentioned above United isn't exactly the best experience, but keep in mind that post the United-Continental merger, United's east-coast hub is at Newark. We once snagged an amazing deal flying from Newark to Honolulu via Chicago (United's other major hub.) It wasn't a major holiday, but we did book around 3-4 months out, so that may be your optimal timeframe.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 11:09 PM on March 14, 2012

I hate Newark, I am stranded there on most flights (I'm coming from HNL)
Newark always has the best fare though, and I always suck it up.
posted by ibakecake at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2012

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