When to Find Cheap Flights? Now. Welcome to the Dead Zone.

You may have heard airfare analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney mention dead zones before; it’s how he describes those periods when no one wants to fly. And when no one wants to fly, ticket prices go down, down, down. Welcome to the Dead Zone.

LISTEN: Airfare expert Rick Seaney loves saving you money.

November and December Dead Zones

The best dead zone of all is in January (see below) but much of fall is a dead zone, too. The  savings-season really kicks in toward the end of autumn during two specific periods:

  • November dead zone: First two weeks of the month
  • December dead zone: First two weeks of the month*

*Important note: Specific dates vary from year to year depending on the date of Thanksgiving. This year the holiday is relatively late (Nov. 27) and we’ve seen good prices through Nov. 18. December’s dead zone kicks in once Thanksgiving passengers have gone home and ends when Christmas travel gears up.

Examples of Cheap Dead Zone Flights

Here’s a comparison of routes and prices from JetBlue, summer vs. fall. These one-way prices come from the FareCompare Deals Blog and the airline.

San Francisco – Long Beach, Calif.

  • Summer: $81
  • Fall: $61

Orlando – Nassau

  • Summer: $149
  • Fall: $102

Hartford – Ft. Lauderdale

  • Summer: $165
  • Fall: $111

By the way, the summer fares above were good on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only; the fall fares have certain restrictions but do allow for some weekend travel.

January Dead Zone

This is the cheapest dead zone of all, because everyone stays home after the holidays presumably because they’re tired of traveling or tapped out financially (or both). This is when savvy travelers can find the best flight deals (and hotel bargains).

  • January dead zone: It generally begins after the first week of the month and ends in mid-February when demand for Spring Break trips sends prices rocketing skyward.

If you have a dead zone travel tale to share, we’d love to hear it.


Published: October 30, 2014