Fare sales are ramping up this month after a record number of airline deals in the fall, according to Hopper, an app that tracks airfare trends and predicts when to get the best price on a plane ticket.
▪ Book for winter or spring travel. According to Hopper’s Consumer Airfare Index, the average round-trip domestic airline ticket booked in December for travel during off-peak times — generally from January until just before the start of the summer travel season in May or June — is expected to cost just $205. Last year, the average was $245.
The index measures the “good deal” price a consumer would typically pay for domestic travel (and so excludes last-minute ticket purchases for business travel that usually are far more expensive.
Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, said one reason for the greater frequency of sales has to do with the sharp decline in oil prices.
▪ Search midweek. You’re likely to find the best flash sales on Wednesdays and Thursdays, apparently. A flash sale is a fare drop of 20 percent or more below prevailing ticket prices.
“Sales are driven by people at the airlines,” Surry said. “As the workweek starts, they'll decide if they need to run a sale in order to fill more seats.”
▪ Be flexible. Fare sales don’t last long, often ending the same day that they started. And the biggest discounts will be snagged by travelers who can be flexible about their travel dates and times.
“Our advice is to keep an eye on destinations that you might be interested in,” Surry said. “If you see a deal, act quickly.”