At the end of every summer vacation season, there's a magic date to fly. It varies from year to year but this year it falls on Aug. 25.
Here's what makes the magic date so special, and why you should take full advantage of it.
1. It's cheap.
As far as the airlines are concerned, August 24 is the last day of summer. The magic begins with big discounts to mark the start of the fall season on Aug. 25. By that date, many kids are back in school and family vacations are done - but airlines still have to fill their planes. They do this by lowering fall ticket prices by 10, 20 and even 30% (or more).
2. Shorter lines.
Imagine smaller crowds at your favorite destination. That's what you may well find starting Aug. 25 and beyond, when lines at popular tourist attractions begin to thin out. Airport security can be a lot faster in fall, too.
3. Aug. 25 is just the beginning.
The cheaper fall season starts on Aug. 25 but continues through mid-November. Then, airlines gear up for the Thanksgiving travel period and raise their ticket prices dramatically.
4. Fewer blackout dates.
With the exception of the Labor Day holiday, most airlines don't blackout travel dates during fall sales (though there is always an exception or two). The significant blackout periods occur later in the season, covering the most popular days to fly around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One last thing: As noted, the magic date varies slightly from year to year but typically occurs during the last week in August.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site