Labor Day 2012 — Who got the best flight deals?

With Labor Day now past, it’s always interesting to look back and figure out just when the best time was to have booked a flight for the holiday weekend.  This year, it looks like that distinction belongs to July 12th — just over 7 weeks in advance.  We looked at the average fares in the top 11,000 U.S. markets for travel Labor Day weekend, August 31st through September 3rd.  What we saw was a steady decline in fares over the course of the summer, hitting a rock bottom number of $480, only to begin to rise again once we hit mid-July.

How did the people who waited until the last minute do?  Not so well.  By the 19th of August, 12 days before the holiday weekend, average fares had risen to $628, and by 3 days before they were at $753.

Labor Day Airfare Trends

You’ll notice all these fares are a little on the high side.  That’s because we ran the study for just the peak travel dates — leaving on Friday and coming back on Monday. Travelers who were a little more flexible, often got much lower rates.

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