How to Save on Memorial Day Weekend Flights

Three-day holiday weekends were made for getaway jaunts, but Memorial Day is a little different. There’s the one-two punch of flying during any holiday plus the seasonal uptick in airfare prices that hits in mid-May.

But don’t worry. You can still save money. Here’s how.

Start by finding the cheapest fares available

  • Save by flying the right days

Everyone wants to make the most of a three-day holiday weekend by departing Friday and returning Monday night but because it is the most popular itinerary, it’s also the most expensive.

Give a little and you’ll get a little – or even a lot. These airfares for round-trip flights from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. were found late last week:

  • Depart Friday, return Monday (non-stop): $640
  • Depart Saturday, return Tuesday (non-stop): $402
  • Depart Thursday, return Monday (connecting): $437
  • Depart Saturday, return Monday (connecting): $411

Note: Some connecting flights can be all-day affairs and not necessarily recommended for quick getaways but are included to demonstrate pricing patterns.

  • Save by using the right airport

If you have a choice of airports, fly in and out of the largest one since that will most likely be the cheapest. But compare fares because you never know where a deal will crop up.

  • Save with a cheaper destination

FareCompare readers know that deals to Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle have been plentiful this year. Other good getaways are hub-to-hub flights of 90 minutes or less. If traveling further, try for flights less than two-and-a-half hours in length and with the tightest connections possible.

  • Save with airfare sales (maybe)

Several airlines offer weekend deals –  often found on The Deals Blog – with a limited number of destinations but one of them might be exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Save with the right airline

Compare airfare prices.  Every time you fly. The reason for this is, no single airline always has the best fares (and that includes Spirit and Southwest).

Note: To be sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples, don’t forget to add (or subtract) fees for baggage, early boarding or seat selection – if these are extras that interest you. Also factor in any lost (or gain) in miles if switching from your usual airline (and don’t forget credit card miles). If driving to an airport that’s farther away from the one you usually use, factor in parking and fuel costs.


Published: April 22, 2014