Airports are packed this time of year as people make their way to and from their holiday destinations. That's been especially true this week, since the day before Thanksgiving is consistently the busiest day of the year for U.S. air travel. But even if you haven't yet made your way home from that trip, you may already be planning for the next one coming up about a month from now.
Hopefully you already have tickets in hand for your Christmas or New Year's destinations, because you're probably out of luck trying to shop for affordable airfare at this point.
Depending on carriers and destinations, those flights are typically booked pretty far in advance and whatever remains can come at a pretty steep price.
But enough about 2018. Think ahead to your 2019 travel plans and where you want to visit, because now is the time to get those flights booked. In fact, the very best day of the year to find great deals on airfare is coming up next week.
It's the most wonderful time of the year for cheap airfares
For a number of years, experts at the airfare tracking app Hopper have researched post-Thanksgiving airfare prices and determined the week of Cyber Monday is where you'll find the majority of deals. Hopper's chief data scientist Patrick Surrey says it's partly because airlines are looking to attract more business, since the holiday shopping season is traditionally a pretty slow time for post-holiday bookings. Another factor: lower fuel prices allow the airlines to offer higher discounts.
But although you're likely to find good deals throughout the week, there's one day in particular that stands out. According to Hopper, the absolute best day of the year to find those cheap airfares is Tuesday, Nov. 27, the day after Cyber Monday. Last year, the company found 20-25% more deals on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, and they expect to see a similar (or higher) number of deals this year as well.
How to find the flights you're looking for
Knowing the day for the big discounts is half the battle. OK, probably more like two-thirds of the battle. But the other important part of the equation is knowing how to quickly locate and jump on the best deals, as many probably won't last long.
First, check websites for you airline(s) of choice to see if they're advertising any current or upcoming deals. The same goes for travel websites.
Then, cast a wide net to include other platforms. Travelers should follow airlines' social media accounts. To keep from having to watch those accounts all day, set up alerts that will notify you immediately when a new deal becomes available.
And finally, don't assume these deals only apply to domestic flights. Hopper's Surrey says some of the best discounts could be for trips overseas.
Now there are a few things to keep in mind: The experts say these sales probably won't apply to certain types of fares, or flights during popular times of the year. That would apply to already super-cheap economy fares and best-of-the-best first-class tickets. It will also be difficult to find deals for popular travel times, such as spring break, so having some travel flexibility will work to your advantage.
If you're looking to get a head start on booking upcoming trips, our sponsor Skyscanner has created a one-stop shop for all the cheapest Black Friday flight deals offered by major airlines. Find flight deals from Delta, American, United and more on Skyscanner.
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