Monday, 28 January 2013 10:54
If you must fly in the peak of the summer, you might as well quit reading now, as airfare will be consistently high. But if your plans are more flexible, you can save big by choosing the right time to book your trip. There are five cheap periods to fly during 2013 and one of those times is right now:
1. Most of January
Once the major holidays have passed, prices for January take a dive, which is why it's considered the number one airfare dead zone. This week is the start of the prime window, as the final wave of higher-priced New Year's flights subsides.
Exception: We are seeing higher prices (and airfare sale blackout dates) on flights to/from Washington, D.C. on the days just before and after Jan. 20, the date of the presidential inauguration.
2. Early February
February can be very cheap, with these exceptions: Avoid travel to New Orleans early in the month (that's where the Super Bowl will be played on Feb. 3) and also avoid flights to/from Las Vegas because a lot of folks head there for game-day partying. Luckily, Feb. 14 falls on a Thursday this year so you should be okay if you want to go someplace romantic; when Valentine's Day is on a weekend, prices can jump.
Read also: Airlines may offer 20% more discounts on advance tickets next year
One last exception: Watch out for Spring Break travel to rev up in the latter part of the month, which always drives up ticket prices.
3. Late spring for Europe
Spring is a great time to go to Europe because the weather's good and you can save a couple of hundred bucks over summer. Rule of thumb: peak pricing typically kicks in around May 15.
4. Almost any holiday
You probably know that flying on the big day itself - such as Thanksgiving or Christmas - is a lot cheaper than the dates surrounding the holiday, but it's usually true for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day as well. It's very simple; people don't want to waste their holidays at the airport but if you don't mind a few hours of tedium, you will save money.
5. The cheap weeks of Nov. and Dec.
Call it the pre- and post-holiday periods. One of these is the two-week period at the start of Nov. - what I call the pre-Thanksgiving airfare bargain time. The other comes after Turkey Day (which falls on Nov. 28 in 2013), beginning right about Dec. 3 and continuing until about Dec. 18. Most people will travel during holidays of course so these weeks are total dead zones and tickets are priced to move.