Airfare Shopping Deadlines for Spring Break and Summer Vacation

If you plan to fly in the next few months, some advice from airfare analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney: “Don’t delay on Spring Break, finish your shopping now,” he says, adding that summer travelers have some breathing room. Here are the specifics.

Best destinations for Spring Break

Deadlines for Spring Break Flights

No matter where you plan to go or when, finalize airfare shopping now.

  • Three weeks before departure: Buy now. You should have Spring Break tickets purchased three weeks before departure  but if you missed that deadline, shop immediately.
  • Avoid weekends: If you’re still shopping, know that the already high prices for Spring Break periods will be even higher on weekends, so the ideal time to travel is weekday-to-weekday. If this is not possible, you can still see half the savings by flying one weekday.
  • Delay: If spring vacation is not dependent on a school schedule, delay travel until late April when airfare prices drop significantly.

Save more: How to pack everything in a carry-on

Deadlines for Summer Flights

Begin shopping to compare prices but there’s no pressure to buy – yet.

  • Wait to purchase tickets until three months before departure: If you shop too soon, you will probably pay too much. Start shopping three months before take-off and have tickets in hand at least three weeks before the trip.
  • General shopping period: For most summer trips, you can buy tickets from about mid-March through the end of May.

Ways to Save for Spring and Summer

These tips will actually help you save year-round.

  • Fly weekdays: It’s almost always cheaper to fly Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Saturdays than any other day of the week.
  • Compare non-stops and connecting flights: You can often find cheaper fares by adding a stop (or two) instead of booking the non-stop flight. This does not apply to hub-to-hub flights of about 90 minutes duration or less.
  • Compare airports: Bigger is often cheaper when it comes to airfare, so if you live in a smaller city, compare prices to the next biggest airport – you may find a better deal.

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Published: February 10, 2014