Summer Airfare – What to Pay and What's Too Much

Prices for summer airline tickets are relatively flat this year compared to 2012, but that doesn’t mean prices are cheap. In fact, they’re the most expensive we’ve tracked in the past 10 years.

Listen to Rick Seaney tell editor Anne McDermott how she went wrong:

Find the cheapest possible summer flight right now

Summer Prices – Good News, Bad News

The reason is simple: Summer is when people want to fly, so the airports make hay while the sun shines in the form of higher ticket prices. And let’s not forget some new fees. However, we do have ways to lower airfare so check our tips below. Then get shopping. Sale prices are limited to just a few seats which can (and do) disappear quickly.

Another way to save money: know what to pay.

Summer Airfare Prices to Aim For

If you can’t find the prices shown below, try to be as flexible on your travel dates as possible – that’ll help.

For flights lasting 1 to 1-1/2 hours: Example, between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta

  • What to pay: About $165 round-trip
  • What’s too much: More than $200 round-trip

For flights lasting from 2 to 4 hours: Example, between Chicago and Tampa

  • What to pay: About $250 round-trip
  • What’s too much: Try not to go over $300 round-trip

For flights from coast-to-coast: Example, between Los Angeles and New York

  • What to pay: About $375 round-trip
  • What’s too much: Try to stay under $400 round-trip

Ways to Save

Check out FareCompare’s new Summer Travel Guide. It’s loaded with money-saving tips and here are a few:

  • Shop for airfare on the cheapest day/time: Tuesday afternoons
  • Fly the cheapest days: Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday
  • Hub-to-hub metro city flights are generally cheaper than flying to/from smaller airports
  • Connecting flights (with stops) can be a lot cheaper than direct or non-stop flights


Published: May 8, 2013