[Rick Seaney is the CEO and cofounder of FareCompare, and and columnist for Investopedia. The views expressed by columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Investopedia.]
 

Summer is almost upon us and no one loves it more than those who decide how much you’ll pay for airline tickets. This is their time to pump up the prices, something we’re already seeing in sales for peak travel periods in June, July and August.

Demand is the culprit, as usual; the kids are out of school, the weather is good, that’s when people want to fly. The airlines know this, and they also know we’ll pay (and should ticket buying slack off, they simply lower them a bit before attempting another increase). You know all this, too, but you may not know the summer dates to fly (or avoid) that can ease the strain on your wallet. See if any of these travel periods work for you.

Summer Dates to Fly, Summer Dates to Avoid

These dates are based on average prices from my company’s vast storehouse of airfare data. For certain routes and cities, it may be off a day or so for the very cheapest flight. This is why I also urge any airfare shopper to (1) Always compare airfare prices on a comparison search site, and (2) Always search a day or two ahead and behind your targeted itinerary dates. The savings may surprise you.

U.S. Domestic Travel

  • May 20: This is the last day of the cheaper spring season. As long as you begin your trip on this date or earlier, you’ll find better fares.
  • June 14: The final day to begin a trip and enjoy cheaper pre-summer fares.
  • June 15 – Aug. 29: The peak summer season for 2017. If you must fly now, see the tips at the end to help cut costs. The next time you’ll see prices this high will be during Thanksgiving.
  • Aug. 30: A good day to begin a late-season trip because fares will be lower; this cheaper period continues through mid to late October when another dip occurs. In fact, one of the best times to fly is during the first couple of weeks in November since demand is always low just before Turkey Day.

Travel to Europe

  • May 12: OK, the bad news first. This is the date the expensive summer season gets underway so you’re not going to get the pre-season deals. However, over the past year we’ve seen historical lows for Europe, so a summer flight may not make you feel anywhere near as much pain as previous years. A few examples of roundtrip fares, found on my site on May 10, for travel in July:

           Boston to Rome – $551

           Los Angeles to Copenhagen – $680

           New York to Paris – $654

           New York to London  $695

  • Aug. 21: Fares drop for fall, which to me is the perfect time to tour the Continent – smaller crowds at the airport, short lines at attractions.

Travel to Asia

  • June 9: A fairly significant price hike begins; if possible, start your trip by June 8.
  • July 20: Another price hike. Again, fly earlier in the month or at least start traveling June 19.
  • Aug. 7: Summer prices begin to drop.
  • Aug. 20: A more significant price-drop gets underway.

How to Make Peak Season Travel Cheaper

If you must fly during summer’s priciest period, you can still save something; here’s how.

A final way to way to save money is by using a carry-on bag, still free on most airlines (be sure to check, especially if flying what are known as discount airlines such as Spirit or Norwegian). By the way, I use a carry-on even for trips to Europe where I’d get a checked bag for free, mainly because the bag that travels with you is the bag that doesn’t get lost. Enjoy your summer.

 

 

 

 

 

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