4 Ways to Get Around Airline Sale Blackout Dates

It’s a rare airline sale that doesn’t include any blackout dates – dates in which the discounted prices do not apply.

Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney tells editor Anne McDermott how to beat the blackout:

The Secret Discount: It’s for Real

Summer, Holiday Sales Worst for Blackout Dates

Summer sales tend to be the worst – these deals are often only good for two days out of a week (typically, Tuesdays and Wednesday).

Holiday sales have a downside, too – a recent Thanksgiving-specific sale from Southwest excluded the most popular travel days, making the deals all but useless for many Turkey Day flyers. But there are some things you can do.

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Getting Around Blackout Dates

1. Re-work your own schedule

This may seem obvious but a lot of us don’t even consider flying outside of a pre-arranged schedule. Still, if you can fly the non-blackout dates – even if it means beginning and ending a vacation in midweek – the savings can be significant.

2. Check out competitors’ sales

When one airline launches a sale, the others usually follow – and while they sometime list identical blackout dates, that’s not always true. This is why it’s so important to shop on an airfare comparison site – it’s how you find the best deals no matter when you want to fly.

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3. Fly to nearby airports

Sometimes blackout dates are actually blacked-out cities. A recent American Airlines sale, for example, excluded New Orleans in early February when the Super Bowl will be played there. An alternative strategy is to fly to a nearby airport such as Baton Rouge or Gulfport. Other sales blackout Washington D.C. in late January for the presidential inauguration – a good alternative is nearby Baltimore.

4. Not all blackout prices are bad

Sometime blackout pricing is expensive, sometimes it’s not. A recent United sale offered flights from Los Angeles to Denver for $236 round-trip. On that sale’s blackout dates, prices ranged from just $11 more to almost double the sale price. On Europe sales, flying on blackout dates can add from $150 to $350 (or more) to the price of your ticket.


Published: December 4, 2012