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But that doesn’t mean that cheap flights don’t exist. You just need to know where to look…and when.
Eugene To Lax Round Trip
It’s not about booking flights on Tuesday: there is no best day to book flights. And you also can’t beat the airlines by deleting cookies or browsing anonymously.
Our Best Tricks For Finding Cheap Summer Flights This Year
The trick to finding summer flight deals, even as we head into June, is to focus on the right time to travel and destinations where you can still find cheap flights. Here’s how.
In normal years, summer flights are always more expensive. Flight prices are skyrocketing this year as Americans take to the skies in record numbers for their first summer vacation in years.
But there’s still a sweet spot for the best deal: late summer. Instead of traveling between late June and early August, you can often find much cheaper flights by moving your travel dates to late August or early September.
It can be difficult for some families when children are preparing to go back to school at the end of August. But for others, many school districts don’t start classes until after Labor Day.
The Big Con
If you’re traveling in late August, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars on your ticket by squeezing in a cheap vacation before the kids go back to school.
At Thrifty Traveler, we search for airfare deals every day, and a clear trend has emerged: While airfares are high for much of the summer, we regularly see much cheaper prices in mid-to-late August.
Here’s an illustrative example from a Google search for flights from Minneapolis (MSP) to Calgary (YYC) this summer. August is the perfect time to visit Banff National Park, Lake Louise, and any other part of the incredible Canadian Rockies. But peak summer flights to Calgary can be expensive. However, this is not always the case when you arrive later in August.
By opening a calendar with flexible dates, you’ll see significant savings if you can travel a few weeks later. If you want to fly to Banff the first, second or third week of August, it will probably cost you more than $400. However, if you pick those green dates in the last two weeks of August, it’s almost half price.
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It’s not all about the price either. Flying in late August also avoids peak summer crowds in many destinations. In June and July, Banff National Park is full of people. But the weather is better in August and September, and the crowds are less as families prepare to go back to school, youth sports start up again, and calendars fill up before the holidays.
The same goes for American attractions, beaches and national parks. If you’re stuck at rush hour, you’ll need to wake up before dawn or wait until the early evening to get to the park to beat the national park crowds. But if you’re traveling in late summer, you can skip those headaches and simply enjoy the parks during normal hours.
If you can make a Labor Day weekend trip work for you and your family, it’s the perfect way to save an extra day on PTO and travel over the long weekend. Although Labor Day is a national holiday, Labor Day doesn’t typically see a spike in airfare like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or Thanksgiving weekend.
Going back to our previous example from Minneapolis (MSP) to Calgary (YCC), you can spend Labor Day in the Canadian Rockies for this low price.
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Basically, the key to finding cheap summer flights is the same as any other time of year: flexibility. Now more than ever, it’s important to follow the “Fly First” rule by searching for flights before planning anything else.
Labor Day may mark the end of summer for many … but summer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd. And you’ll often find the cheapest flights for summer travel in September.
Remember how much cheaper our flights from Minneapolis (MSP) to Calgary (YYC) were in late August? Well, you will love the look of the September calendar.
There are four times more cheap flights available in September than in August. The reason? In September, more and more people are busy with school and other activities, which means that demand is lower at this time.
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But since there are plenty of cheap dates, you can take advantage of this wide availability to create a long weekend where you and your family miss just a day or two of school or work to experience the Canadian Rockies of a lifetime.
Can’t fly later in the summer? Another great way to save on summer travel is to look a little closer to home. And luckily for you, domestic flight prices are dropping drastically this summer.
Thrifty Traveler Premium members were treated to a whirlwind, onslaught and tactical onslaught of incredibly cheap domestic flights this summer. Round trip flights for under $100 again!
Want to know about next summer’s flight deals? Get it straight to your inbox with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
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We’ve sent our subscribers flights for under $100 from New York to Florida; between Minneapolis and St. Petersburg. Paul (MSP) and Charleston (CHS), New Orleans (MSY) and Savannah (SAV); between Nashville (BNA) and Miami (MIA); between Los Angeles (LAX) and Las Vegas (LAS) and Phoenix (PHX) to name a few.
For a few dollars more, the list gets even bigger. You can visit the Massachusetts islands of Nantucket (ACK) and Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) for just $139 — much, much cheaper than the $500 flights you usually see to these places during the peak summer months.
And if you still want to visit the national parks, then a late summer visit to Glacier might be just what you’re looking for.
We have too many examples, really. Domestic flights are very cheap to travel this summer, and they usually aren’t. Take advantage while you can and book your dream vacation as soon as possible!
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While there is no magic answer to the best day to book, there is undeniably an answer to the cheapest days to fly, especially during the busy summer months.
The above schedule is for flights between Chicago (ORD) and Nashville (BNA) in August and September. This is about as clear a picture as you can find about the cheapest days to fly.
You can save at least $100 or more per person on summer airfare by flying midweek, which can go a long way toward making your trip more comfortable or affording airfare for the whole family.
Want to fly far this summer? Plan a trip abroad and you might be shocked to find that you can still find cheap summer tickets abroad.
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To find the best prices, you should definitely follow the rules we outlined above: aim for late summer, aim for mid-week, and aim a little closer to home for the best chance of finding a low price.
If you’re going the other way, consider booking a cheap trip to Iceland in late summer when the weather is better and you still have the long, long summer days of sunshine.
If you need extra comfort, you can also fly in business class at insanely low prices. This fare from Ottawa (YOW) to Florence (FLR) was the lowest in a crazy business class deal flying across Europe from most Canadian airports during peak summer travel.
Four figures for a flight may sound like a lot, but considering that these business class flights typically cost around $4,000, it’s a steal!
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If you’ve been dying to get out and see the world, you might want to set your sights on an international destination this summer. The price of a ticket abroad may not seem as bad as you thought. If you want to leave the country this year, there are deals on flights.
Finally, if ticket prices are high, you can use your points and miles to book a flight. This can help soften the blow, and you might even find a great deal on redeeming points, even if the cash tickets are sky-high.
Those fancy new seats we just reviewed (and loved!) on this Condor route cost over $3,000 round-trip and $3,230 if you book directly with the airline (which you should always do).
With just 55,000 Alaska Airlines miles one way, this seat can be yours for just $48 in taxes and fees.