Get Ready for January 'Dead Zone' Sales – Cheapest Airfare of the Year

Published by Anne McDermott on December 5, 2012

If you're interesting in taking a cheap vacation, air travel expert Rick Seaney suggests you "fly during the coming dead zone to save," and savings are deep – often more than half-off the price of holiday travel.

In fact, airlines are already cranking up sales for the upcoming dead zone deals period, which kicks off in January.

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Dead Zone Sales Now Underway

Sales on flights in the latest dead zone period (some extending all the way into May) are currently being promoted by AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest and expect more in the future. Tip: Connect with a deals blog that's updated daily or sign up for airfare alerts so you don't miss these deals.

Why January is Cheap

As Rick Seaney explains, "The week of January 6 is considered dead by airlines as demand ebbs to its lowest of the year mainly because business flyers are budgeting travel, not consuming it." He adds that parents are also traveling less because the kids have gone back to school.

But that's good news for the rest of us, says Seaney. "A lucky handful of flexible travelers can scoop up the cheapest prices of the year, slashed by over 60% compared to the holidays," and he points out that there's often an added bonus: "You just may have an empty middle seat beside you."

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5 Dead Zone Periods of the Year

Seaney borrowed the phrase "dead zone" from author Stephen King a few years back because it so perfectly describes the five fleeting periods of the year when no one wants to fly. In response, airlines drop their ticket prices. Look for dead zones during these months:

  • November: First two weeks
  • December: First two weeks
  • January: Starting at the end of the first week (Jan. 6 or 7)
  • February: Excluding Valentine's Day, the Super Bowl and Spring Break periods (days vary from year to year)
  • Late August through September: Excluding the Labor Day holiday

Always Compare Airfare for Dead Zones

Because various dead zones have blackout dates (such as Valentine's Day, particularly when it falls on or near a weekend), it's important to use an airfare search site that incorporates a flexible calendar so you can compare prices; it's the only way to know for sure if you're getting the best out of a dead zone.

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