Find the Cheapest Flights for Summer: Vacation Guide 2015

First the bad news: Airline tickets for summer flights are running on average about half a percent higher than the summer of 2014. The good news: Deals still exist. This guide will help you find them.

Note: See our bonus Summer Travel Tips at the end.

LISTEN: More ways to save from the expert.

Where to Go

First things first – where to go? This list includes some of the cheapest destinations for June, July and August for flights to U.S. and European cities.

Tip: Click the city name for airfare deals from your town. Learn more about attractions in these cities.

U.S. Cheapest Cities

Europe Cheapest Cities

Bonus: Paris. No, the City of Light is by no means cheap but it’s the best value of the Big Three – London, Paris and Rome.

When to Fly

There are cheaper weeks and months and cheaper days to fly.

Cheaper Weeks/Months – U.S. Fly within this range of  dates and save on average from 10 to 22% compared to peak season flights.

  • Depart on/before June 15
  • Depart on/after Aug. 20

Cheaper Weeks/Months – Europe. Find similar savings on flights to Europe during these periods.

  • Depart on/before May 12 or 13. The precise date varies by airline.
  • Depart on/before June 17. The next day prices typically rise again.
  • Depart on/after Aug. 20.

If you can’t avoid peak season flights due to children’s school vacations or your own work schedule, you can still book flights on the cheaper days to fly.

  • Cheapest Days – U.S. Usually Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday.
  • Cheapest Days – Europe. Usually midweek days.

When to Shop

You probably know procrastination can be expensive but you can also pay too much if you buy too soon. Find the best deals in these airline ticket shopping windows.

  • U.S. shopping window: 3 months to 1 month before departure.
  • Europe shopping window: 5 months to 3 months before departure.

More Ways to Find Good Deals

Let’s cut more costs.

Compare airfare prices: This is a must, because no single airline always has the best ticket prices. If you don’t compare, you might still get a deal – or you might pay way too much. Why risk it?

Consider connecting flights: Longer flights can be cheaper if you include a stop so compare the price of nonstops vs. connecting flights. FareCompare makes this real easy when you search for fares: See the little box for Nonstops? Don’t click it. Now you can compare all your options.

Compare airports: If you live in a small town, compare prices from the hometown airport and prices from the nearest hub airport. Again, if you can endure the inconvenience of a longer drive to the airport, you could save money.

Avoid fees: Look up you airline’s baggage fees before you fly. Fees can and do change without notice but here’s what we can tell you:

  • Checked-bags: Most U.S. carriers charge for all checked-bags on domestic flights (Southwest is a notable exception).
  • Carry-on bags: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit all charge a fee for  carry-ons.
  • Europe: On most trans-Atlantic flights, passengers are allowed one free checked-bag. However, discount carriers flying within Europe are known for charging a wide array of baggage fees.

Tip: When possible, pack light and use a carry-on. Not only can it  save you money, but a bag that stays with you is a bag that cannot get lost.

All set? Good. Now find a deal – and have a wonderful summer.

Bonus Summer Travel Tips

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Updated: May 7, 2015