Cheap Flights for Spring Break – Where to Go and How to Find the Best Deals

Spring Break is becoming an institution for U.S. travelers – a welcome welcome break from mid-winter blahs – but only if the price is right. Let’s look at cheaper locations and how to get there for less.

But first, listen to FareCompare’s Rick Seaney share top spring break ‘cheap spots’ with Editor Anne McDermott.

1. What days should I fly for Spring Break?

Avoid Fridays and Sundays if possible or you’ll pay a 20 percent to 40 percent premium for flights on those days. Generally speaking, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and sometimes Saturdays. If you can only fly one mid-week day, you’ll still see some savings.

2. What are the reasonably priced Spring Break destinations for 2012?

Here are some ideas:

Boston: Lively nightlife and family-friendly activities make Boston a popular choice and a cheap one too thanks to increased capacity on the part of JetBlue. Other low-cost carriers serving Logan Airport include Frontier, Southwest, Spirit and Virgin America.

Denver: Skiers love the Mile High City and its nearby world-class resorts and Denver is cheaper than ever thanks to lots of low-cost carrier competition (and Spirit enters the fray in May).

Florida Beaches: Florida is running about 50 percent cheaper than Caribbean destinations and 2010’s oil spill is now just a distant memory so come on down and choose from a wide range of hotels (many offering vacation package deals). Panama City’s newish airport features flights on Southwest and Delta.

Southern California: Fares are running just a little higher than Florida and the weather in LA and San Diego is nearly as warm, with less rain. Best bet for deals: flying into LAX.

Note: I’ve mentioned low-cost carriers, but the legacy carriers – American, Delta, United/Continental and US Airways – often compete vigorously with the discount competition.

3. When should I buy tickets and what will they cost?

When to buy: If you will fly in March, buy those tickets now – and try to book on a Tuesday, the cheapest day to buy airline tickets – and check out the Deals Blog for airfare sales. For those who will be traveling in April, buy your tickets by the end of February.

What to pay: Chance are you’ll pay between $250-$300 roundtrip for trips of 1,500 miles or less, and between $300-$400 for flights of longer duration, although you may see some exceptions to this rule.

4. Anything new on travel to Mexico?

The U.S. State Department has updated its Travel Warning on Mexico so it now includes several popular tourist destinations such as Cabo, Cancun and Cozumel that are not affected by this warning. However, conditions can and do change without warning, so check with Travel.State.Gov before making plans.

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Published: February 21, 2012