Fall Fare Forecast: Cheap Flights

Temperatures may be in the 90’s where you are, but fall is fast upon us – at least according to the airlines which are busy advertising all kinds of deals for autumn. At the moment, we are seeing some steals such as roundtrip flights from the U.S. to Ireland for under $600.

Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney tells editor Anne McDermott why fall is uniquely travel-friendly:

Podcast Transcript

Top 5 tips to save on every flight

Fall: Best Time to Fly

For my money, autumn is the best time of the year for a vacation: it packs  the one-two punch of great weather and great airfare prices. I should point out that winter prices are even cheaper, especially what I call the dead zones which include the first couple of weeks in December and the last three weeks in January – but unless you’re set on a ski vacation, fall weather is so much more comfortable.

Fall Fares Drop up to 33%

As for airfare prices, they can drop as much as a third or more over summer airfare and this year prices begin dropping off in earnest starting Aug. 27. They rise again a little during that first weekend in September due to the Labor Day holiday, then head south again. As always, you’re savings will depend on where you’re flying from and to, plus which days of the week you fly (and more on that below).

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Fall Destinations: Hidden Gems

There are some old favorites among the cheapest destinations for fall and some hidden gems that we don’t see often under the cheap flights category, and this is true for domestic flights and international. Take a look.

Domestic Destinations

  • Northwest: Flights to Seattle are the cheapest I’ve seen in years and this city really shines in autumn (raining or not).
  • Southwest: Los Angeles airfare is running about 15% less than San Francisco while Phoenix is even a little cheaper. Both are great destinations for you golfers.
  • Rockies: Denver is cheap, but no surprise here – this Colorado city has been cheap all year long.
  • Middle America: A wild card this year is Minneapolis which has some very good fares (plus it’s a great place for enjoying the fall foliage). Other cheap destinations include a couple of Texas cities, Austin and San Antonio, plus New Orleans where you can enjoy the fun of Bourbon Street minus the sweltering heat of summer.
  • Southeast: Ft. Lauderdale is only about 30 miles from Miami but at the moment its airfare prices are running about 15% less. As always, compare prices to both from your hometown.
  • Northeast: As we’ve seen for most of the year, Boston is cheap and so is Philadelphia – and you won’t have to look far to find fall color in either location.

International Destinations

  • Caribbean: For now, Nassau seems to be offering the best deals, but flights to Puerto Rico are a close second and there are plenty of cheap fares to Bermuda as well.
  • Europe: Scandinavia is the gem here; we’ve seen to Copenhagen in the high $700s, while Stockholm and Oslo were cheaper than I’ve seen in years. There have also been solid fall fares to London but not nearly as cheap as flights to Ireland with some round-trip deals to Dublin going for less than $600.

How to Find Cheap Flights

These tips will help you find the cheapest flights for fall travel or anytime of the year:

  • Shop for airfare on Tuesday afternoons: Airlines usually launch sales late Monday or early Tuesday and by Tuesday afternoon, rival carriers have matched prices to stay competitive.
  • Fly the cheapest days: On domestic flights, Tuesday and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest days to fly but Saturday is relatively cheap, too. International flights tend to be cheapest for travel from Monday through Thursday.

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Published: July 23, 2013