So you still haven’t booked your Spring Break trip?
Easter is nearly here—just a week or so away—and a lot of our customers are asking: How can I get a good last minute deal for spring break?
Of course, if you really want a good deal, the best advice I can give is to pick another time to go. On average, fares for travel within the U.S. during Easter Week (March 22 – March 31) are 91% higher than they are for most dates in April. But I know that’s kind of dodging the question.
So, if you are absolutely set on traveling that last week in March, there are steps you can take to at least lessen the damage. If you’re flexible, there is definitely money to be saved, even if it’s only by finding fares that are less bad.
The key to paying as little as possible lies in choosing your travel dates wisely. Flying on one day versus the next can often be the difference of $100 or more. So be sure to check many different date combinations. We just looked at 138,000 searches conducted over the last 24 hours for flights between March 21 and April 2. We found that the most expensive day to depart on average is Saturday, March 23, with Friday, March 22 being a close second. If you can avoid those two days, you are likely to fare much better, particularly if you can leave later in the week like Monday or Tuesday. Travelers departing on Tuesday instead of Saturday will pay an average of $176 less on their ticket!
Coming back, a similar dynamic applies. Saturday and Sunday are virtually tied as the most expensive days to return. If you really want to save a lot of money, and can afford to be pretty flexible, try coming back on Tuesday: you’ll save an average of $136 when compared with a Saturday return.
Put it all together and the numbers tell us that, if you’re looking for a week long trip, the average Tuesday to Tuesday fare is $399 – not bad at all for last minute during Spring Break; but the average Saturday to Saturday fare is a really pricey $658!
And what about picking a place to fly? Are there some cities where the last minute prices are more inflated than others? You may not guess it, but St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands is actually the most expensive destination for Spring Break, relative to what it normally costs (it’s 161% higher). But the usual suspects are also pretty expensive: you’ll pay a hefty premium—at least double the average fare—to fly to most cities in Florida and Hawaii, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Cancun and San Diego.
On the other hand, the city with the lowest fare relative to its yearly average is Greenville, South Carolina. We love Greenville and we love South Carolina, but the numbers would indicate it’s just not a popular Spring Break destination. Last minute fares to Greenville are “only” 55% above average, compared to cities like New York (83% higher), New Orleans (87%), Denver (92%), and Orlando (104%). Ohio, too, may have been Ground Zero during the election, but for Easter Week it’s not getting a lot of love from travelers. In fact, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are all in the Top 10 U.S. cities with the lowest spring break premium.
Also worth noting: although it may be a little late to plan a big international trip for the holiday, fares to many long-haul destinations in Europe, Asia, South America or Australia are actually relatively benign. Sure, they’re not fire sales by any stretch, but in some cases you can find deals that are within 10-20% of their yearly averages. Easter in Rio, anyone?