Looking to fly this holiday season? The best deals are available right now

Anyone looking to travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas should already be tracking fares.

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By Kerry Breen

It may seem early, but if you're planning to fly this holiday season, now is the best time to start looking for flights.

"We recommend that travelers who are planning to fly for Thanksgiving and Christmas start tracking prices now and expect to book their flights for both holidays before Halloween," Hayley Berg, an economist at travel site Hopper, told TODAY.

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Why not wait? There can be quite a difference in fares between late September and late October.

According to Hopper, in the last three weeks before Thanksgiving, prices can jump between $5 and $10 each day. The same thing happens just before Christmas, so travelers should start buying tickets as soon as possible to make sure they get the best deals.

This year, there's also a chance there might be fewer planes operating during the holiday season. Both United and American airlines are hoping that the still-grounded 737 Max airplane will be approved to fly again by mid-December, but if not, there might be fewer planes flying than normal.

Passengers who wait could end up paying more or find themselves booked on less desirable flights — and who wants to kick off the holiday season with a long layover or a flight spent in the middle seat?

"Start watching prices now," Berg advised. "Tracking them with a price monitoring software is a great idea. And plan to book before the end of October."

American and United airlines may have fewer planes available because of the 737 Max groundings. AFP - Getty Images

If you're really looking to save money on fares, there are a few dates that make for especially good deals. Traveling the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving is often 20% cheaper than other dates. And when it comes to Christmastime, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 are the cheapest days to fly.

Recent data suggests that buying now could be good for your wallet: Thanksgiving prices are about 4% cheaper than they were last year, and Berg estimates that average round-trip domestic airfare will be around $294, the lowest price in three years. Christmas flyers have an even deeper discount, with flights about 9% cheaper than they were last year.