Good news if you’ve been putting off a summer vacation trip or if you’re a retiree who can go where you want when you want,
Airline ticket prices are due for a drop and the big day is just around the corner.
What's the magic number?
Let’s call it the magic date to fly and this year it falls on Aug. 23. Go ahead and start shopping now, just make sure your travel itinerary begins on Aug. 23 or later. What will that get you? An average price drop from 15 to 20 percent depending on where you’re traveling from and where you're going. Some could see more savings, some less-- but nearly everyone will see something a little easier on the wallet.
Need help making the final decision? Here's a little Q & A on how to get the most of the magic flight booking number.
Why do prices drop on Aug. 23?
It’s the time of year when a lot of kids go back to school and demand for travel drops off sharply. Airlines try to woo us back with discounted ticket prices.
How long does the price-drop continue?
This particular savings period is good through mid to late October when many prices dip a little more.
Are more price-drops ahead in 2016?
Yes, and here are the major ones to watch for; all are good times to fly domestically or for planning a trip to Europe:
--Beginning mid to late October
--First two weeks in November (particularly for domestic flights)
--After the first week of January through mid to late March (except for some in-demand warm weather destinations)
Are there any travel periods coming up where you shouldn’t fly?
If possible, stay home on the dates surrounding these holidays. If you have to go, it’s often cheapest to fly on the holiday itself.
--Thanksgiving (Nov. 24): This itinerary is traditionally one of the most expensive, departing the Wednesday before and returning the Sunday after
--Christmas (Dec. 25) and New Year's (Jan. 1) as they are usually peak travel periods.
How do I actually find the cheapest flights?
They’re already out there; for example, Southwest’s latest airfare sale is good for travel starting – you guessed it – Aug. 23. Now that you know the dates to look for (and avoid), try these simple strategies.
--Always compare fares: No single airline always has the cheapest fares, not Spirit, not Frontier, not Southwest; you have to compare or you might overpay.
--Set some airfare alerts: Sometimes deals pop up unexpectedly but alerts come to you in real-time so you don’t always have to be on the look-out
--Fly the cheaper days: If you have to freedom to travel when you please, you’ll really be pleased by the fares offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays which are traditionally the cheapest days to fly.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site