Two Ways to Save: Memorial Day and Summer Vacation Flights

If you’re very lucky, you might find something close to a deal for Memorial Day weekend travel but the real question is, how are your summer plans shaping up? Memorial Day is your cue to get moving. Let’s look at the best ways to find deals for both.

LISTEN: Need last-minute holiday or reasonable summer tickets? You need airfare expert Rick Seaney.

Memorial Day Travelers

If you don’t have tickets, buy them now. The day of last-minute deals is largely over, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Look for airline weekend deals: Several airlines including American, United and US Airways usually offer weekend specials, typically with Saturday departures and returns from Sunday through Tuesday. Note: Some specials feature an extremely limited number of city-pairs and there’s no guarantee your city is included.

Here are some of the deals currently available. Click  the airline name for prices and cities:

  • American/US Airways: Memorial Day Weekend Sale – Fly This Friday or Saturday
  • United: Memorial Day Weekend Deals from $160 round-trip – Book by Friday 5/23

Look for hub-to-hub flights: Competitive routes between two big cities – where the flights are under 90 minutes long – are more immune to holiday and last minute price hikes than most routes. They probably won’t be cheap but they probably won’t keep you home if you really want to go somewhere. Note: If you don’t live in a hub, are you willing to drive an hour or two to get to one? It might be worth it.

Summer Travelers

If you’ll be vacationing in late June, July or August, you still have time to find a deal but Memorial Day should be your wake-up call to get busy. Four suggestions:

1. Fly early, fly late. If you can travel outside the peak summer season, you’ll see significant savings.

  • Fly before June 8
  • Fly after Aug. 24

Note: These days may vary slightly depending on the airline.

2. Buy tickets at least 30 days ahead. After that point, the race is on as ticket prices head higher and higher.

3. Compare routes. Sometimes adding a stop (or two) can significantly lower your fare – as much as 60 percent over the non-stop price – but always compare fares to see if this will work on your particular route.

4. Fly midweek: Everyone wants to fly Mondays and Sundays but those are generally the most expensive days to fly. Airfare analyst Rick Seaney says, airlines even have a code for this – XFX – which means, excludes Fridays and Sundays. “Airlines don’t need to include those days in sales because they know many will travel then no matter what the cost, to squeeze the most from vacation time.” If you want to save, don’t follow the herd.

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Published: May 21, 2014