Cheapest Time to Fly: January and February

Want to know a secret? You can save big money on flights to a winter getaway. And choose from a wide variety of money-saving destinations, too – including Europe – but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Bottom line: The time to fly is now.

Listen: Rick Seaney with more tips for cheap flights.

Save even more – use a carry-on – and here’s how to pack

January, February Dead Zone

January is what airfare expert Rick Seaney calls “the cheapest dead zone of the year”. A dead zone just what you’d expect: A time when most of us don’t want to fly, either because we’re busy with work or school or we’ve just spent a bundle on the holidays. Airlines know this and drop their prices to lure passengers so they don’t have to fly empty seats. The time to shop is now.

Note: Other major dead zones include two week period before Thanksgiving, and the first couple of weeks in December.

Prices: $39 Flights

A quick review of FareCompare’s Deals Blog tells the story. Not only have we seen $39 flights from JetBlue this week (one-way price from Long Beach, Calif. to Las Vegas), we’ve also seen incredible deals to Europe such as Aer Lingus’ $499 round-trip special for Boston-Shannon flights. To put that in perspective, last summer Aer Lingus’ round-trip “deals” for July travel cost about $1,000. Fly now and you may save hundreds of dollars.

Dead Zone Dates

The January dead zone typically extends from just after New Year’s to just before Valentine’s Day. Depending on the airline, the dates vary slightly but here is a general guideline:

  • January dead zone: Jan. 7 to Feb. 12

Before you book your flights, though, keep reading for the aforementioned pitfalls.

What’s the Catch

Fly cheapest days of week: The very best dead zone deals are typically available on the cheapest days to fly – Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday – for domestic flights. Tickets to Europe tend to be cheaper for midweek travel.

Avoid Super Bowl dates: You will notice many airline sales blackout travel to this year’s Super Bowl airports (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark) during the most popular to/from travel dates for the big game. It will be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. If you’re heading to the Big Apple, plan accordingly.

Watch out for President’s Day dates: President’s Day or George Washington’s Birthday is observed on Feb. 17 so avoid travel dates surrounding this popular getaway holiday.

Spring Break: This traditional getaway period varies from region to region (and school to school) but typically starts in mid-February and can extend well into March. Avoid flying during these dates since prices will be high.

Avoid peak-season destinations:  Although the Caribbean can be cheap in summer, it’s generally expensive during the January dead zone. The good news for beach lovers is you can find cheap flights to several Florida destinations.


Published: January 2, 2014