3 Ways to Save on Peak Season and Holiday Airfare

In a recent column for USA Today, I wrote about crazy Super Bowl airfare prices. No surprise, really, considering how the big  football weekend has become something of a national holiday. That’s why airlines charge so much; they know we want to fly.

Last minute tips to get to the Super Bowl

LISTEN: Rick Seaney is one cheap guy (lucky for us).

Save on Peak Season Tickets

Call it peak season pricing. You’ll see it at Thanksgiving and other popular travel periods like summer vacation and Spring Break. But while deals are scarce during peak periods, no one should pay more than absolutely necessary. Here are three simple ways to find cheaper flights during expensive times to fly – including Super Bowls.

1. Limit Flights to 90 Minutes or Less

If you just want to get away or go someplace new during a popular travel period, try a destination roughly 90 minutes away by air (or less).

Examples of such flights include Los Angeles-San Francisco, Houston-Dallas, New York-Washington DC or Boston. The key to making this work is flying a popular short-haul route – with lots of  airline competition – which keeps costs relatively low even when other fares are hiked dramatically. Tip: Compare fares and also compare routes to see if this is workable.

2. Don’t Automatically Fly Non-Stop

Sitting on a plane is tedious at best and a cramped endurance test at worst. But would you stretch out your travel day to include an additional flight (or more) if you could save as much as 50 percent on airfare? Sometimes you can. Compare the price of a non-stop to your destination with the price of a connecting flight to see if a longer travel day is worth it to you.

3. Fly Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays

Most of us don’t want to miss a minute of vacation or second of that weekend getaway which is why we often fly Friday-to-Sunday or weekend-to-weekend. Don’t do it! At least, don’t do it without first checking ticket prices for flights on the cheapest days to fly: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. This is an itinerary that often saves money:

  • Depart Tuesday, return Saturday

Fly these days and you’ll still have plenty of time away, plus a day to pack and a day to decompress. Compare itinerary prices and see if it’s worth it to you.

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Updated: January 28, 2015