10 Quick Tips for Cheap Summer Flights!

We’re right in the middle of vacation shopping season. Can you believe it? Summer’s just around the corner! Here are a few down and dirty tips for getting the best price on airfare.

summer flight tips

You should also scoot on over to our Summer Flights and Europe Summer Flights pages for date-specific advice on the best and worst days to fly from June to September!

#1 The Early Bird Still Gets the Worm
If you have been eyeing June for your planning, you might be a little concerned at this point. And for good reason. Though it’s still possible to get cheaper fares in June today, there may not be as many options available as there were when you started searching in, say, January. Our best advice if you’re locked in on dates and see prices spiking now? Buy now. Summer is very popular, it’s closing in and it’s not a great gamble to hope for a sale.

If you have the date flexibility, we’d suggest moving your search closer to the end of the summer where the bulk of the deals still exist. In June, for example, a flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) on the weekend will set you back $373 on average. If you can take that same trip in the last weekend of August all the way through the end of summer, you can expect to pay about $300. A savings of $73 per ticket will save a family of four almost $300! Buy early! We can’t say it enough.

#2 Put on Your Realist Big Boy (or Girl) Pants
When shopping for the 4th of July or Labor Day weekend, you’re not going to get the same prices as you would if your trip was mid-week in February. Summer flights are priced at a premium out of the gate! You should plan on spending a bit more for flights if your heart is set on summer travel, and put your energy into finding cheap accommodation (you can nearly always find good, budget accommodation even very last minute)!

#3 Mixing and Matching Flights is a Great Idea
One of our secret weapons for snagging the best airfares pricing is offering our customers a more “mix and match” experience. You might choose one flight on the outbound on JetBlue and catch the return on Alaska Air for the best price. Because we offer this option, we can often get deals for customers that no one else is promoting. There’s really no downside to going this route – unless you’re loyal to one airline. That’s cool too! Being loyal is awesome! Just know that the biggest savings might not come across your radar.

#4 Pay for Your Bags In Advance
Okay guys. On this point, we must be sticklers. These days, the airlines are selling everything a la carte, and at different price levels depending on where you are in the sales process. This means to get the best prices for an Economy fare on many airlines these days, you should plan to pay for your bags up front, when you’re buying the ticket sitting in front of your computer. You’ll pay a higher price for your luggage if you wait until later to buy online (after you’ve sorted out your wardrobe choices), and you’ll pay even more if you wait until you get to the airport. Under NO circumstances should you wait to pay for your bags until your travel day at the airport. They will make you pay for that bag. And it will be painful. For example, the carry-on fee for one bag with Spirit is $35 if you book it when you pay for your ticket. If you wait until you’re boarding to tell the airline you’re carrying on, they’ll charge you a massive $100.

#5 Monthly Installments are Available
For pricier itineraries, you might consider our monthly payments option. We’ve partnered with Affirm to bring you this awesome way to finance your trip. You can pay off the tickets over 3,6 and 12 months, and in some cases, this might help customers who are on a budget and still saving for very expensive tickets. If you come across a deal before you’re ready to pay in full, monthly options can lock down the fare for you, not hold up your trip and allow you to make manageable payments over the following months.

#6 Cheat on Your Favorite Airport
It’s not always possible to search for alternate airports, but if you are in a metropolitan area where more than one airport is an option you should definitely search all available departure points. If you’re willing to depart from an alternative airport, you can often find better savings than if you insist on your favorite airport. We know, we know. Not all airports are created equal. And we’re not advocating sacrificing convenience for a few bucks. But what if you can save big time? Flexibility can pay off!

#7 Be Ready to Buy
This tip is another one we can’t stress enough. We do not advocate torturing yourself by watching airfares fluctuate for even one minute before you have the money to buy and/or are in a position to buy (see tip #5 if this sounds like you). We’ve been in the airfare business for a long time and if there’s one thing we’ve learned its that good prices do not last. The Internet has made it even easier for people to track fares, so rest assured. When a low fare pops up for your itinerary it will not stick around for long. People will come in and snap those low fares up quickly. Don’t hesitate!

#8 Flexibility with Dates = Game-changer
You’d be surprised how much you can sometimes save if you have a little wiggle room with your travel dates. Sometimes a day earlier or later can return substantial savings. We always recommend keeping as much flexibility as possible in the planning stages so you can hop on these deals as they arise.

#9 Avoid Weekend Travel for the Biggest Savings
This tip is one we cling to, though sometimes it feels like a losing battle. The difference in fares with Tuesday and Wednesday departures and returns compared to weekend departures and returns are usually fairly substantial, but it doesn’t much matter. People like to travel on the weekend for a variety of reasons – if you go on the weekend you can maximize vacation time without touching your vacation days at work. There are events like concerts and festivals on the weekend. Sometimes people just psychologically prefer leisure time on the weekend when other people are out enjoying the weather as well. But we like to go against the grain, and avoid the crowds and high hotel prices. To us (and lots of other people who have figured it out), mid-week travel is just more relaxing. And a lot cheaper for just about everything——including flights. Check out the calendar view of economy fare prices on our Summer Flights page. It’s illuminating. Try mid-week travel. We think you’ll like it.

#10 Use Our Insurance Policy
We have a nifty little feature called Price Drop Payback. If your flight price goes down after you buy – Price Drop Payback eliminates that buyer’s remorse. We will reimburse you up to $100 in the form of a credit for future travel if your ticket price goes down. It’s simple. No more stress.

We love summer vacation! Tell us where you’re going this year in the comments below or share your tips for grabbing cheap airfare!

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15 Comments

  1. Flight fro Port of Spain Trinidad

    To Ft. Launderdale Florida
    Caribbean Airlines

    Date June 22 2018

    To July 7 th 2018

  2. Flight fro Port of Spain Trinidad

    To Ft. Launderdale Florida

    Caribbean Airlines

    Date June 22 2018

    To July 7 th 2018

    1. Hi Denise, It looks like the lowest available fares at the moment for your dates are on JetBlue for $358 (nonstop).

  3. My youngest daughter will be turning 13 on July 6th. All she can talk about is wanting to fly lately (partly because her older sister gets to go to Italy next month). So my husband and I have decided to book a flight for her birthday. I have a sister that lives in Atlanta so we can fly out from there. We have friends that live in Dallas and in Houston so we wouldn’t need hotel accommodations if we fly to either of those cities. I don’t know where to even begin looking for an airfare that won’t break the bank. Could you help me find the best deal to fly anytime around her birthday (before or after July 4th weekend)? Pretty please???

    1. Hi Leah, You’re picking the most busy travel times (which usually means flights at a premium, but I’ll see what we can come up with. How many days are you looking to be there?

      1. We are pretty flexible… three days sounds good. I’d like to have at least one full day to see the sites before boarding the plane again. We could even plan the trip two or three weeks before or after her birthday if it makes a difference. Thank you so much!!!!

        1. Hi Leah, At the moment the best prices are going to be on Friday, July 13 to Monday the 16th. Delta has nonstop flights to Dallas on these dates for $127/ticket. You could also do Houston on those dates on Delta (also nonstop flights for $151/ticket). These fares will not last – buy soon!

  4. My family is going to Barcelona, Spain in May 2019,
    What month you recommend for me to buy an affordable tickets for 3 ?

    1. Hi Guevarra, Fares should be published sometime later this month or next month. It is not likely that you’ll find the “best” fares so early, but you will have the best choice. It is probably worth waiting a bit- maybe start a serious search around November or December when your dates are more likely to see a “sale.”

  5. I want to go to Vancouver on Aug 31, 2018 till like Sept 4
    When do you think I should buy my ticket that is affordable?

  6. Hello my boyfriend and I plan to travel to Denver Colorado from Charlotte North Carolina June 22-June 30th 2019. When would be the best time to start looking for Flights?

    1. Hi Dominique, The best time to book is in what we term the “prime booking window.” You can read all about it (the prime booking window for 2018 is about 3 weeks to 4 months out from your travel dates): https://www.cheapair.com/blog/2018-airfare-study-the-best-time-to-buy-flights-based-on-917-million-airfares/. The one caveat I would mention for your travel dates is that seasonality CAN affect the prime booking window. You are traveling during the summer, which means that flights will likely be more expensive than at other times of the year (up to 20% more expensive on publish date) and may sell out faster. If you are shopping and start to see the fares going up incrementally, that indicates that waiting is not a good strategy. Buy if you see the fares start a slow climb.

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