The peak summer travel season for U.S. flights in 2018 is June 23 to Aug. 27 (give or take a day). Peak season dates in many other countries are similar. This is usually the most expensive travel period of the year, but you can easily save money; just wait for the magic dates to fly in August.
Magic Dates to Fly
In 2018, the magic dates to fly in August for U.S. domestic travel start on or about Aug. 28. For transatlantic travel, we are seeing some very good fares in August but you may find better deals starting around Sept. 10. Prices typically drop on these dates because children return to school and demand drops. Here are seven more things to know about magic dates to fly.
1. When to find fall deals
The fall deal zone – which begins with magic dates to fly in August – extends through early December. It’s a very cheap time to fly, second only to the winter season. However, in the U.S., there is one big fare spike in fall due to the popular Thanksgiving holiday travel period in late November. Otherwise, cheap fall flights are available until about mid-December.
2. Winter deals
Winter is generally the cheapest time to fly. Find winter deals after New Year’s, usually after the first week in January, and the season lasts through March. It’s the cheapest time of the year to fly largely because it’s such an unpopular time to fly in much of the world.
3. Do all airlines have the same magic dates?
No. We’ve seen late summer airfare sales offered by U.S. airlines where the magic date varies. For example, in early June, Southwest Airlines launched a fall sale for travel starting Aug. 21. Tip: Compare fares for multiple itineraries to find the best deals. This is where our Getaway Map is extremely useful and it’s a great deal-finding tool whether you live in the U.S. or anywhere else. Simply click a month or season you want to fly, and you’ll be shown prices to cities around the world. Then, click a fare you like and you be given four itineraries. Be sure to click all four even if some seem too expensive because prices can drop in an instant.
4. How much are the savings?
What you save by flying the magic dates can vary by departure and destination cities, but in previous years, we’ve seen price-drops of 15-20%. Earlier this year, we found a roundtrip fare from Washington, D.C. to London in July for a little over $1,100. Then we looked for that same flight in September and found a deal for under $560. As they say, your savings could vary.
5. How to find deals?
Some eays ways to find deals, year-round:
Compare fares: No single airline always has the best deal.
Set airfare alerts: When prices drop you’ll be notified instantly.
Getaway Map: A glance will tell you what’s cheap and what’s not.
Fly less popular days: In the U.S., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are generally cheaper than other days. In other regions, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends.
6. Any no-go dates or travel periods to avoid?
U.S. flights: Avoid the Thanksgiving travel period; the holiday itself falls on Thursday, Nov. 22 this year but the Wednesday before and the Sunday after are particularly expensive.
International flights: Avoid the days immediately surrounding Christmas (Dec. 25) and New Year’s (Jan. 1) as they are usually peak travel periods.
7. When to fly if you live outside U.S.
Generally speaking, major holiday celebrations and lengthy school vacations tend to be expensive times to fly around the world and the reason is simple. Airlines know this is when families are free to travel, and prices are raised to meet this demand. If you can fly before or after these expensive periods, you will generally cut your costs, at least a little.