Virgin Atlantic plane
If the Sir Richard Branson ice cubes aren't enough, Virgin Atlantic is giving travelers another reason to choose their airline - cell phone use has been cleared for takeoff by the company. The downfall? It will cost you.

Travellers looking to book a bargain flight might find one on Christmas Day.

Each year, thousands of British travellers spend Christmas Day in the air to save money on airfares.

Flights departing on December 25 are typically half empty. This year, however, seats appear to be filled with recession-conscious travellers keen to take advantage of the lower fares.

According to Virgin Atlantic, flights departing for Australia on Christmas Eve, and arriving on Boxing Day, are 95 percent full.

During the Christmas week of December, a surge in demand for seats on planes sends airfares soaring, with some passengers prepared to pay a fortune to ensure they can spend Christmas Day with their families or at a preferred location.

But for flights on Christmas Day, and for overnight journeys departing later on Christmas Eve, airlines tend to experience a sharp drop in bookings.

For passengers who do not mind travelling on Christmas Day, or who are keen to avoid Christmas altogether, possibly for religious or emotional reasons, booking a flight on 25 December can save them hundreds of pounds.

Flight Centre UK spokesman Brett Warbrick said that while airlines do not always specifically reduce the price of air tickets on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the prices will often remain lower than other days around this time because the demand is low.

"Typically, on Christmas Day and New Year's Day there tends to be cheaper flights available," he said.

"Later flights on Christmas Eve will also tend to be a bit cheaper," Mr Warbrick said. "Typically they're not a high demand flight... I'd be surprised if they're more than 70 percent full."

Other positives involved in flying on Christmas Day or New Year's Day are quieter flights with more room available and a flight crew that is generally in good spirits, he noted.

For those who have bagged a last-minute bargain, he advised getting to the airport early to check in. "Travelling around this time of the year is very popular, so factor in more time going through the airport."

Many of the hold-ups are due to problems with hand luggage, where travellers are transporting more valuable or fragile gifts in their hand luggage than at any other time of year, he added.