How Airfare Sales Work

Knowledge of airfare sales should be one of the primary tools in every flyer’s smart travel toolkit. So listen up! Here’s the first thing you need to know: Airfare sales aren’t the same as fare cuts or last minute travel deals, but they definitely have a place in a traveler’s information base.

What Airfare Sales Are

Airfare sales are discounts on fares that are planned around certain popular routes or popular travel times — the summer travel season or the holiday travel season, for example. Airlines generally start and end airfare sales on specific dates, and require that travel be completed by a certain date. Most airlines prominently advertise airfare sales.

So why do airlines run airfare sales? They make for great ads, and they’re a good way for airlines to fill seats. They’re also terrific for customers who want to find good airfares without having to spend hours scouring the internet. Seeing an ad for an airfare sale to an appealing destination is often just the push some people need to go ahead and start planning their vacation.

3 Things Airfare Sales Are Not

Airfare sales are not the same as fare cuts. Fare cuts are often used by airlines to poach passengers from profitable routes run by other airlines. Fare cuts are also used by airlines to test certain markets, and may begin or end at any time.

Airfare sales are not the same as last-minute travel deals you pick up through channels like email alerts. Those last-minute deals may only last a few hours or even a few minutes, until the eligible seats are purchased.

Airfare sales are also not the same as fare changes, which are usually tied to things like supply and demand, or a drop in fuel prices.

The types of fare cuts listed above are generally not planned around holidays, with specific starting and ending dates, like airfare sales.

Who Are Airline Sales Geared Toward?

While there will always be airfare jockeys checking fares daily to ensure the best possible price right up until departure, not everyone has that much desire or time to spare. Airfare sales allow the typical customer to get a very good fare up front so they can direct their attention elsewhere.

Many people are drawn to airfare sales when they see other trends — increasing fuel prices, for example, which they believe will drive up fares in the long run. Locking in a decent price can allay those fears.

The best way to keep up with airfare sales is through the FareCompare Deals Blog. It allows you to find out which airlines are having airfare sales, as well as booking deadlines and destinations.

Airfare sales give you an oasis of stability in the volatile world of air travel, and give you some peace of mind when planning your next vacation. You may even have a little extra money left over for other vacation indulgences.


Published: June 13, 2011