Now that the Independence Day holiday is over, it’s time to look for deals on airfares.
Summer is a make-or-break time for the airlines, so even though summer flights are looking pretty full, especially for July, we could see some deals on those seats that are left. Airlines know that the majority of people who plan to fly to their summer vacation spot have already purchased tickets, so they will be willing to sell their remaining seats at a discount.
Since the airlines typically launch sales on Tuesdays, this week will be a great time to look for deals. When it comes to sales, we should start seeing longer sale periods. Lately we’ve mostly seen three-day sales, but we should also start seeing some seven-day, 10-day and even two-week-long sales.
We are also starting to see airlines discount more summer dates and additional days of the week for travel. Typically, the cheapest days for sale fares have been Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, but Southwest’s recent blowout sale only excluded travel on Friday and Sunday.
Deals for travel on Friday and Sunday will continue to be tough to find because business travelers want to return home on Fridays, and leisure travelers want to depart on Fridays and return on Sundays. I think travelers would really benefit from a change in the way they think about departing and returning. There’s no reason you have to leave on a Friday and return on a Sunday in the summer. If you leave midweek, you can have two short workweeks and save a bundle on fares.
We have seen Hawaii prices go down and then come back up. A couple of weeks ago, fares dipped to the mid-$400 range for travel from July through April 2012. You’ll have to be on the lookout to catch those fares if they dip again and be ready to buy, because that is a great price. Winter in Hawaii can make for a nice break, especially if we have another winter like the last one. Instead of bundling up at home, you could be lying on the beach texting your friends about the 85-degree weather.
Fares to both Cancun and Puerto Vallarta have room for improvement, and we should begin seeing sales for fall travel to Mexico and the Caribbean. We’ve seen some good fares to Central America, but you’ll have to watch out for the fuel surcharges. Be sure you’re looking at the total fare price before you book. Fuel surcharges can make some international destinations unaffordable, even if the base fare is a bargain.
We recently had a fare from Dallas to London for $669 round trip, including taxes and fees, for departure Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, including the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s a great fare that was more than $200 cheaper than other fares for fall travel. Even though taxes and fees can really push up the price of an international ticket, we can still see some deals because the airlines are willing to lower the base fare. The taxes and fees on that fare were $198, and the fuel surcharge was $362, but the base fare was a mere $109.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s is more important than ever to stay within fare sales when booking tickets. There are temporary, unadvertised sales, and if you find one, buy your ticket.
Tom Parsons is CEO of Bestfares.com: mediabestfares.com