If you're looking to snag a deal on a new car, wait for Presidents’ Day. For a set of golf clubs or a grill, find promotions for your sought-after goodies around Fathers’ Day. And for that mondo-sized plasma, pack yourself a leftover turkey sandwich and prepare to do battle with the camped-out gadget geeks outside the electronics stores the day after Thanksgiving. But what about airfare? Is there a Black Friday for cheap flights?
There may just be. Airfarewatchdog Airfare Analyst Manager Gabriel Leung gets paid to hunt down the lowest-priced fares. Having observed countless sales throughout the years, Leung finds that “fluctuations mostly depend on other sales, and whether an airline has a new sale.” These days, the trendsetting carriers are Southwest and AirTran, which typically post their newest air sales on Tuesdays.
As you may have guessed, the more competition is out there, the lower the rates drop. By late Tuesday morning, I'll often see American, United, or another carrier come out with a matching sale of their own. By then, you have the perfect recipe for cheap fares.
The Wednesday Fare Brawl
For most routes, Wednesday morning is another good opportunity to seal the deal. By then, most airlines that plan on competing with the Tuesday sales have released their fares.
Other variables should be taken into account as well. For the more popular routes, such as those to evergreen destinations like Las Vegas or Orlando, don’t sit around waiting for the sale price to get lower. More likely than not, by the time you are ready to punch in your credit card number, the lowest rates will have already been snagged by enthusiastic travelers.
Die-hard bargain shoppers should set their alarms early. Leung has identified crack-of-dawn fares, which appear sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. and are gone by late morning.
Don't Fall Into a Routine
If you scout for flights around the same time each day (say during your lunch break, or once you’ve settled in at home), you may be missing out on fluctuations that occur throughout the day. Additionally, you may be looking around the same time as millions of other fare-seekers, driving fares up due to a higher demand volume.
Those of us who work with airfare sales all day know that there simply isn’t an exact science to pinning down a low fare. But by applying some of the above tips, you may be able to find a flight within your budget. When you do, book your seat and, as Leung suggests, “don’t look back.”
Armed With Knowledge?
Which days do you consistently find the lowest airfares? Share your experience with our community.