Cheapest Destinations for Summer Vacation Flights

Maybe this is your year for Europe or Fiji or an African safari. If so, have fun, and here’s how to find the cheapest flights to these far-flung destinations. But if you’re on a budget – and planning to stay in the U.S. – we’ve got you covered there, too.

Listen as Rick Seaney tells us what’s hot, what’s not:

See the FareCompare Summer Travel Guide

Finding Cheap Destinations

We’ve got a lot of ideas for cheap summertime destinations, but prices will vary depending on where you’re flying from. First suggestion: check out What to Pay for Summer Vacation Flights. Then, see our ideas for cheap destinations below. Click on the city name to find the cheapest flights.

Cheap Cities: Western U.S.

Los Angeles – Always a relative bargain and significantly cheaper than San Francisco (though there are usually great deals between the two cities).

Phoenix – If you don’t mind sizzling temperatures, airfare to this city can be a real bargain. Tip: After a round of golf on a hot course, treat yourself to a refreshing spa session.

Seattle – Air travel expert Rick Seaney says this vibrant Northwest city has the cheapest fares he’s seen in three or four years.

See the Deals Blog for all the latest airlines sales

Cheap Cities: Central U.S.

Austin, San Antonio – More airlines are focusing on these fun Texas cities which means cheaper airfares for you.

New Orleans – It will be humid, but it will also be entertaining – and very often a nice, cheap getaway.

Cheap Cities: Eastern U.S.

Boston – Increased competition to this historic city makes it a good deal year-round and summer is no exception.

Miami and Ft. Lauderdale – These airports are just 26 miles apart and vie with one another to offer the cheapest prices. Note: June 1 marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season which gives some travelers pause, but can mean even cheaper airfares.

New York - Airfare whiz Rick Seaney says prices to the Big Apple are improving and look for weekend hotel deals there, too.

Washington, D.C. – Dulles, Reagan and nearby Baltimore airports create an enviable competitive environment that ensure passengers usually win.

Cheap Route: Cross-Country

Look for better deals this year on flights between Los Angeles and New York. Keep your eyes open for the rare $99 one-way deal, but such unusual promotions are more likely in late summer if not the fall.

How to Find the Cheapest Flights

Here are three sure-fire ways to find the cheapest flights every time you shop.

Compare prices: If you head to a single airline’s website, you could miss out on some amazing deals. Compare prices so you don’t miss out on any cheap flights.

Shop Tuesdays: For the past several years, the best day to shop for airfare has been Tuesday at about 3 p.m. eastern time. That is still the case.

Fly less popular days: The cheapest days to fly are typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even if you can’t work out a departure and a return on those days, flying one of them will still save you money.

Also try the following:

Connecting flights: By dispensing with the convenience of a non-stop flight, you could save anywhere from 20% to 60% on airfare.

Using a carry-on bag: Fees for checked bags usually add up to $50 round-trip. Only JetBlue and Southwest offer free checked bags. Note: Spirit charges for all bags, and Frontier will soon institute a carry-on fee for some customers.

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Published: May 16, 2013