Good deals on air travel come to those who wait

If you want the worst fares, book seats in July. If you want the best fares, schedule during late summer and fall.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWSJuly 27, 2013 

When it comes to air travel, the only word that comes to mind when looking at prices for travel in the next five to six weeks is a four-letter word: ugly.

If you want to take a summer vacation, hold off until the second or third week of August, when good times will return. The fares for travel in late August should have you singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” — and those days should last until mid-December.

In late summer and fall, business travel increases as travelers return to the skies, but the airlines still depend on leisure travel to fill up planes. In mid- to late August, family travel and college-student travel comes to a major halt, causing prices to plummet for flights across the globe.

One of the biggest drops you’ll see for travel in the coming months is when you compare July airfares with late summer and fall airfares on some flights to Asia. Fares to Europe are also hundreds of dollars cheaper.

We are seeing up to $1,300 round-trip discounts on flights to Asia and $300 to $800 discounts on flights to Europe.

When we priced flights, we found flights from Dallas to Beijing for $2,099 round trip for travel in July, but as low as $789 round trip for travel in September.

Dallas to London was as high as $1,759 round trip for travel in July, but $969 round trip for travel departing at the end of August. The fares to Europe drop for travel beginning around Aug. 26 and the fares to Asia drop for travel beginning around Sept. 1.

When it comes to the Caribbean and Mexico, you can save a bundle on vacation packages by traveling during late summer and fall. We see prices dropping for both airfare and hotels, and they drop even more when you package them.

For example, we found seven-night air and hotel Cancun packages at the four-star Westin during Labor Day, departing on Aug. 28, for $580 per person — and that price was cheaper than three-night packages for travel in peak July, departing on July 26, when the price was $646 per person.

If you travel later, you can pay $66 per person less but get four more nights.

Domestic fares are high for travel now through mid- to late August and are much higher than what we see for the fall.

On some routes from Dallas to the Northeast, the fares are as high as $550 round trip in July and early August. In late August, those fares drop to around $350 and sometimes even lower.

Keep in mind that domestic, Caribbean and Mexico fares have a good chance to come down even more as we get closer to late summer and fall. If you see a good fare, by all means buy it, but if not, you’ve still got time to see if they will drop even more.

Hawaii has a lot of deals for travel from the West Coast.

For travel in summer, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday, but come fall, cheap days should be every day except Friday and Sunday. That gives you three extra days for lower fares and another great reason to hold off on traveling by air until the peak summer season is over.

For Thanksgiving, we are seeing great airfares to Europe and Asia. On the domestic front, expect to pay more during Thanksgiving than you would in late summer and fall, but this is a great time to be looking for those fares because if you are flexible, you may be able to gobble up a good price.

Some people are limited to traveling in July and August when the kids are out of school; others can be patient. If you can push your travel plans to late August or fall, you will save a bundle on travel worldwide.

On some routes, you can even travel for half the price of the current July airfares.

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