Hungry for Cheap Airfare? Try a 'Dead Zone' Sandwich

An employee suggested I title this, “Coming Soon to a Site Near You – The Dead Zone, Starring FareCompare.” Fortunately, a cooler head prevailed (mine) but it is an exciting time for airfare bargain hunters and here’s why.

Definition of a Dead Zone

An airfare dead zone is pretty much what it sounds like: a time of year when hardly anyone wants to fly for a vacation or weekend getaway, and because of this low demand, prices drop. Check out January prices compared to other months and you’ll probably notice that they are – in most cases – the lowest airfares of the year. Now, why did I call it a dead zone sandwich?

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Coming Up: Two U.S. Dead Zones

Two big dead zones neatly sandwich the upcoming holiday periods. During these particular zones, people are either in non-travel mode because A.) they plan to fly at Christmas or New Year’s or B.) they’re still recovering from all that money they spent on the holidays. If you don’t fit into either category, pack your bags and catch some deals during these dead zones:

  • Dead zone #1: First couple of weeks in December
  • Dead zone #2: Last three weeks in January and early part of February

Special Note: Forget the first few days of December in dead zone #1. That’s because Thanksgiving is late this year (Nov. 28), and the early December dates are still part of the Thanksgiving travel period, which is always pricy. For dead zone #2, this cheap flight period typically extends only up to (but not including) Presidents’ Day weekend which is also more expensive. Time your return before Valentine’s Day and you should be fine.

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Europe Dead Zones

Europe has dead zones too – the cheapest of which is winter – which usually ends in late March. Then prices jump a bit for spring, and rise even more around mid-May. If you can fly in winter you’ll see some of the best prices of the year, but prices aren’t quite as cheap as they used to be thanks to steep fuel surcharges and taxes which can add as much as 60% to the price of airfare.

When to Shop for Dead Zone Travel

If you’re looking for U.S. flights in dead zone #1 (December), shop now. You can also shop now for dead zone #2 (January/February) or Europe trips but there is some time to think about it. Not a lot, though – so plan to shop within a couple of weeks or so.


Published: November 12, 2013