Best Time to Buy, Best Time to Fly for Summer

The beach

Want to know how to find cheap vacation airfares? The best time to buy, best time to fly for summer? You’re in the right place.

Best Time to Buy, Best Time to Fly for Summer

Best Time to Buy for Summer

Don’t buy plane tickets too early or too late. If you do, you could pay more than you have to. And please don’t wait until the very last minute or you’ll get hit with the very steep fares business travelers pay. Instead, purchase tickets in these shopping windows:

  • Domestic: Between 3 ½ months and 2-4* weeks before departure.
  • International: Between 5 ½ months and 4 weeks before departure.

*How late you can buy depends upon the airline. Discount carriers like Frontier and Spirit don’t usually hike fares until about two weeks before departure but larger carriers like American and Delta raise prices about four weeks in advance.

Best Time to Fly for Summer

Avoid flying during peak summer season – late June to late August – because that’s when fares are highest. Cheaper times to fly:

  • May: Fares get more expensive as the month goes on and reach a peak around the Memorial Day holiday (May 27).
  • June: The first half of the month is a relatively cheap time to fly, compared to prices that kick in June 23, which marks the start of summer’s peak season.
  • August: Fly on or after Aug. 20, when cheaper fall fares start kick-in; it gets even cheaper in September and October.

If you must fly during the peak summer season, these tips can help lower costs:

  • Fly cheapest days: Save money year-round by flying Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; these are generally cheaper days to fly within the U.S. For cheaper international travel, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends.

Other Ways to Find Cheap Flights

No matter when you fly, these tips will lower your costs.

Take time to compare: Don’t buy a ticket just because someone says it’s cheap! Go to an airfare comparison search site so you’ll know if it’s the best deal. Or not. When checking U.S. domestic fares, be sure to look at Southwest’s website, too; it’s the only airline that doesn’t share fare data with comparison sites.

Fly cheaper routes: We all like nonstop flights because they’re convenient but always compare fares for nonstops and connecting flights because routes that include a stop can be up to 50% cheaper. Not always, but often, so check it out. You don’t want to overlook this potential windfall.

Look out for bag fees: Some airlines charge for checked-bags, some airlines charge for all bags, all airlines charge extra for oversize and overweight bags. Bottom line: Using a carry-on and packing light will often save you money.

Where to Go This Summer

Still not sure where you want to go? Two suggestions:

Check out the Getaway Map: If you haven’t tried out the Getaway Map yet, give it a whirl; it’s an easy way to find deals around the world during months or season you want to fly. The fun part is seeing the prices pop up instantly.

See the list of top destinations: We’ve compiled a list of great cities and beautiful regions within the U.S. and around the globe. All have two things in common: they are on the inexpensive side and all are worth a visit.

Safe travels.

Anne McDermott
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