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.
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.