Best Deal Zone of the Year: Cheap, Cheap Flights

We are about to enter the best deal zone of the year. Yes, a Zone of Deals.

Deal zones (sometimes called dead zones) are periods when most people don’t want to fly. And when people don’t want to fly, airlines lower prices to fill their planes. There are a few deal zones throughout the year but nothing beats the one in January.

LISTEN: Here’s what 2015 was like; 2016 will be similar.

January: Best Deal Zone

As airfare analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney said one of his regular columns for USA Today, “If you think only the rich can afford to jet off on vacation this time of year, you could be missing out because January is generally the cheapest month of the year to fly.”

When to Fly

Deal zone dates can vary depending on the year, as well as the airline and route but the following is a guideline for U.S. and many international flights.

  • Begins: Early January, once New Year’s travel is over.
  • Ends: Mid-February for U.S. travelers because that’s the start of Spring Break flights (and soaring prices).

For international travelers, the end of the January deal zone varies depending on travel demand. For example, ticket prices often rise on flights to traditional Mardi Gras destinations as well as Valentine’s Day getaways.

Deal Zone Savings

In 2015, we saw January Deal Zone prices for as little as $34 one-way (on JetBlue) and we expect to see similar pricing this year; check the Deals Blog for the latest.

Tip: This can be a great time to find airfare sales to Europe from cities around the world. Complete a Europe trip before mid or late March when prices rise for spring travel.

Cheaper Deal Zone Destinations

Not all deal zone destinations are cheap; when the January cold settles over the U.S., prices to warm beaches can rise.

  • More expensive: Caribbean islands and Hawaii.
  • Less expensive: Florida and U.S. West Coast cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

How to Save More

Save money in a deal zone or any time of year with these tips:

Fly on the cheapest days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays in the U.S. When looking for the best international fares, a good rule of thumb is: Fly when most people don’t want to.

Compare ticket prices: This may sound incredibly obvious but many people don’t compare airfare, because they ‘know’ their airline always has the best prices. Wrong. No single airline always has the cheapest fares, so you could pay more if you don’t compare. Sometimes, a lot more.

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Updated: December 30, 2015