UPDATE: When to Buy Flights for Summer Travel

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, and it’s here already-can you believe it? Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about booking a fab vacation this summer while saving big on airfare.

summer beach vacation

It’s CheapAir’s fourth year compiling the Summer Flight Trends Report that breaks down the whole summer calendar so you can see which dates are the best value for vacation planning. It takes the guesswork right out of your vacation-planning process and helps you choose the best summer flight deals at the right time! We’ve tracked 11,000 airfares for flights each day between June 1 and September 21 to discover the best days to fly. We recently took a second look at the data and are pleased to report that the good deals are still there for summer travel. Here’s a quick update, by month:

June
Tuesday, June 14 is now the least expensive day of the month to travel, with Tuesdays and Wednesday air travel still scoring the best fares overall. If you fly on a Wednesday instead of a Sunday, you’ll still save an average of $75. In fact, three of the most expensive days of the month to travel are on Sundays.

July
No surprises here. July is still the priciest month to travel this summer. You can save more by traveling on either a Tuesday or Wednesday instead of Sunday – for a total savings of $82 on average. This year, the 4th of July falls on a Monday, so the possibility of a long weekend has many travelers booking flights over the 4th long weekend, driving flight prices sky high as a result. Get your flights booked now if you plan to travel over the long weekend because the fares are going to continue to rise. If the prices are giving you sticker shock, don’t fret. Travel on the 4th is a very good value as are Tuesday the 5th and Wednesday the 6th (both dates offer some of the best fares of the month). Think outside the long weekend box, and you could score yourself a few days of inexpensive rest after all!

August
If you’re planning an August getaway – good for you! August is still a great value and will save you on average $46 per airline ticket over flights in July. But don’t wait too long to book – as we get closer to the end of summer, these flights will get more expensive. Buy now!

august flight update

September
Why don’t you make an end-of-summer vacay the new tradition? Prices are so good you’ll really want to splash out on a trip to remember. In fact, September 20 is still the least expensive day of the month to fly.

Insider Tips for Summer Travel

#1 – Make Tuesdays and Wednesdays Your Go-To Travel Days
One simple way to capture some savings is to just avoid the weekend. The airlines have a pricing structure in place that sells the same seat at a wide variety of fares, taking into account demand and historical patterns. Weekends are typically more expensive, never more so than in summer. On average, our summer flight data indicates that flying on a Wednesday is $63 cheaper than flying on a Sunday. That may not seem significant until you start examining the typical family vacation. A family of four will save $250 on average for their summer vacation flights just by flying on a Wednesday. Imagine what else you could do with the extra cash you’re saving!

#2 Flexibility Is Key
Whether it’s having a bit of leeway with your travel dates, willingness to split your ticket onto two airlines, flying into an alternative airport (sometimes the smaller, regional airports have better deals), or forgoing the Fourth of July festivities in favor of a less-popular set of dates – simply staying flexible will save you money. Then once you find a good fare and lock it down you can avoid post-purchase worry if you buy with CheapAir.com. We have a feature called Price Drop Payback that protects your ticket up to $100 should the price drop after you purchase it. Easy peasy!

#3 Late Summer Is the New Black
The best fares for Summer 2016 can definitely be found in August and September. Of course, the most inexpensive airfares tend to be available with some advance purchase, in what we call the “prime booking window.” Generally, we advise consumers to purchase their tickets around 54 days in advance. This is just a guideline, however, not a hard-and-fast rule. In the summer, lots of people are traveling to warm-weather and/or family-friendly destinations. And that’s when you have to break the rules and just book early!

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20 Comments

  1. Take the train! The train is cheaper and the seats are lager for more comfort. Riding the rails is more enjoyable and you can see more of the scenery on the way to your destination, plus the food is fresh and tastes much better then the airline garbage!

  2. My brother is dying in England. I live in Ohio. Can leave from Columbus, Oh. Cleveland, Mi Detroit, MI even Windsor, Canada to go any airport in UK. How can I find best price

    1. Hi Sandra, So sorry to hear about your brother. If getting there fast is the most important factor, fly to Heathrow. For example, if you fly from Columbus to Heathrow next Tuesday, June 6 the best fare at the moment is around $1,400 on Air Canada, from Cleveland it’s slightly cheaper at just under $1,400 on Air Canada. Detroit is not cheaper than Columbus. Windsor would be the cheapest at $721 if you’re willing to fly into Gatwick instead of Heathrow.

  3. Looking for travel package from Charlotte, NC to Sydney, Australia with some stops on way to rest and reduce jet lag once I arrive in Australia. Plan on leaving in September and returning ~ November on most economical schedule possible. Will need a 4×4 rental while in Australia. Midway stops could be Hawaii, Fijie, other unusual locations and New Zealand.

    Suggestions by a trip advisor are encouraged my schedule is very flexible.

    Dewitt

    1. Hi Dewitt, We do not put together travel packages per se but I can tell you that a sample itinerary flying in September and stopping in Honolulu for a week, then on to Sydney and the return in November going through Suva. Fiji for a week and returning home will set you back about $2,300 altogether. Conversely, flying from Charlotte direct to Sydney (on American and Qantas) come in starting at less than $900. This sample itinerary is a slog of course (you fly from Charlotte to NYC, then on to Los Angeles and finally catch a 15 hour flight to Sydney), but the cost savings is significant. Both Fiji and Hawaii are not going to be too economical, but (as you said) will help with jetlag. New Zealand would be a fun diversion, but won;t save you any money or give you any health benefits. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Best of luck to you.

  4. good info on flight days. too bad it never works for hotel days at the same time …. satdy flights are cheaper but fri hotel nights before flight and satdy night after flight (weekends) are the highest cost in every city. so we save on the flights but lose on the hotels. we have to balance the “package” cost.

  5. love this information!!! have been following this guide for the past 3 years. very informative

  6. I would like to travel with my family (Total of 4 people) from Tehran-Iran on 05/06 of july to Antalia-Turkey and come back to Tehran on 12/13 of july. I woulk like the lowst fares and most economical fares for this travel. Even good prices for good Hotels. Thank you.

    1. Hi Saeed, I can tell you that the best fares I see are for around $250 USD traveling on Tuesday the 5th and returning on Tuesday the 12th. We are based in the United States so I can only quote USD. That is taking an overnight flight from Tehran to Azerbaijan and on to Antalya. I can send you additional information if you’d like to look into those flights.

  7. Hi! I am an adult woman. I would like to go to N. CA., Santa Rosa, CA., to be exact. It is important to me to visit my Elderly Uncle there, before his health begins to decline, he’s in his 80’s. I thought Sept. Would be the best for lower rates between
    San Francisco & Indianapolis, IN. Any $$ saving ideas would be helpful to me. Thanks

  8. I want to fly RT from Indy to San Francisco.
    Plan on Sept. Flying alone. Over 60.
    If u could LMK the best dates & flights.

    1. Hi C, Thanks for the questions. Our data says that to get the best fare in 2016, buying your tickets about 2.5 months from your travel dates is the best plan. Our general tips for getting the best fare include buying mid-week (on a Tuesday or Wednesday) over traveling on the weekend and being willing to fly on less efficient flights (longer connections) less attractive flight times (early morning and late night, typically), or itineraries with less direct schedules (more connections). This post also gives you more information on how there is value in a variety of different choices: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/cheapair-news/the-best-time-to-buy-a-flight-is-54-days-out-or-is-it/. The best advice is to decide what are the most important considerations for your trip (cost or convenience) and then make purchasing decisions accordingly. Good luck to you and let me know any other questions.

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