Preview: Black Friday, Cyber Monday Sales – How to Get the Best Deals

If the past several years are any indication, airfare shoppers can look forward to a bunch of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. But don’t get too excited yet.

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Sale Restrictions of Past Years

In 2012, some airlines offered excellent deals featuring prices as low as $49 one-way. What will be offered this year is still very much hush-hush (we know, we asked) but we can say past sales featured some heavy restrictions, including:

  • Flights to a single destination (Frontier’s Denver-centric sale)
  • Flights on a single day (Southwest’s deals for Christmas Eve only)
  • Flights to nearby hubs (which are generally bargains anyway)
  • Flights with numerous restrictions (limited flying days with numerous blackout dates)

Best time to buy, best days to fly

How to Find Deals

By all means, check out the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals – you’ll find many of these on the FareCompare Deals Blog. But before you ding your credit card, be sure you’re saving money by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Did you go to one airline site or compare prices of several carriers? As airfare analyst Rick Seaney points out, “No single airline has a monopoly on the cheapest prices,” he said, adding, “Any airline can have the best price at any time, and this includes what are perceived to be (and often are) the more expensive legacy carriers.” Rule of thumb: Compare and save.
  2. Does this sale fit your needs? If you’re looking for Spring Break fares and only seeing January dates, it doesn’t matter how cheap the deal is.
  3. Are you buying airfare too early? If you’re shopping now for summertime domestic fares, chances are you’ll pay too much. Rule of thumb: Begin shopping for U.S. flights about 3 and a half months ahead of departure and up to about two weeks before take-off; begin shopping for international destinations about 5 months in advance. Otherwise, you’ll be offered mid-range prices – the ones the airlines put out before they get around to closer-to-take-off time discounting.

Again, always compare prices. It may seem obvious but some travelers skip this simple step and it can cost them.


Published: November 26, 2013