It’s a rare airline sale that doesn’t include any blackout dates – dates in which the discounted prices do not apply.
Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney tells editor Anne McDermott how to beat the blackout:
Summer, Holiday Sales Worst for Blackout Dates
Summer sales tend to be the worst – these deals are often only good for two days out of a week (typically, Tuesdays and Wednesday).
Holiday sales have a downside, too – a recent Thanksgiving-specific sale from Southwest excluded the most popular travel days, making the deals all but useless for many Turkey Day flyers. But there are some things you can do.
Getting Around Blackout Dates
1. Re-work your own schedule
This may seem obvious but a lot of us don’t even consider flying outside of a pre-arranged schedule. Still, if you can fly the non-blackout dates – even if it means beginning and ending a vacation in midweek – the savings can be significant.
2. Check out competitors’ sales
When one airline launches a sale, the others usually follow – and while they sometime list identical blackout dates, that’s not always true. This is why it’s so important to shop on an airfare comparison site – it’s how you find the best deals no matter when you want to fly.
3. Fly to nearby airports
Sometimes blackout dates are actually blacked-out cities. A recent American Airlines sale, for example, excluded New Orleans in early February when the Super Bowl will be played there. An alternative strategy is to fly to a nearby airport such as Baton Rouge or Gulfport. Other sales blackout Washington D.C. in late January for the presidential inauguration – a good alternative is nearby Baltimore.
4. Not all blackout prices are bad
Sometime blackout pricing is expensive, sometimes it’s not. A recent United sale offered flights from Los Angeles to Denver for $236 round-trip. On that sale’s blackout dates, prices ranged from just $11 more to almost double the sale price. On Europe sales, flying on blackout dates can add from $150 to $350 (or more) to the price of your ticket.