The Cheapest Time of Year to Fly


I just checked out the Kimpton chain's luxurious Sky Hotel in Aspen during the height of ski season, and the cheapest room for two adults for five nights in mid-February will cost you just a hair over $2,235. Stay there off season -- say in July -- and you'll save $435. Nope, you won't be able to ski, but you can hike in those glorious mountains and see some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. There's plenty who'd say that's preferable to freezing your hindquarters off.

But say it's Orlando you fancy: Find your dead zone there while children are still in school (although it seems to me that fewer and fewer parents have much compunction about pulling the kiddies out of class to visit with Mickey).

Or how about Hawaii?

This is an immensely popular wintertime destination for snowbirds, while families with school-age kids love it during summer vacation. Avoid these crowds (and the accompanying peak airfares) by traveling during the fall and winter, and you'll save. Tip: Avoid the increasingly popular spring break periods, which are definitely not dead zones.

Another tip: Many locals say Hawaii's weather is at its best during April and May, and September and October, but to be honest, I've never been there when the climate was anything less than spectacular.

Then there's Europe: Fly the dead zone of winter and save. Prefer Paris in the springtime? Or London when it's warmer? Then try to take advantage of the end of the dead zone in late March, which coincides with the traditional seasonal price breaks on fares to Europe. In order words, check the fares; by flying in late March, you might spend hundreds less than someone flying just a day or so later.

Not sure how to find the dead zone for a trip you have in mind? Simple: Just fly when most people don't want to. If you're not sure when that is, visit an airfare search site like mine (FareCompare) and shop by day and price with our flexible calendar search. It's kind of fun to see how the prices change day to day and how much you can save by simply being flexible.

Another way is to follow the deals: Earlier this week, for example, JetBlue featured a special one-day only sale on vacation getaway packages, which might as well have been called "dead zone deals," since the dates were limited to Dec. 5-14.

One more thing: Set some real-time airfare alerts for your favorite destinations, and pounce when you see a fare you like. Chances are pretty good some of the best fares will be smack in the middle of a dead zone.

Depending on the indoor-outdoor activities you favor, you can create a true bargain vacation, and if you play your cards right, you won't have to wait in hours-long lines behind screaming kids in mouse ears, either.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website,, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.

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