'Cheap Flight Day': What Travelers Need to Know

Key tips for scoring discount airline tickets.

ByABC News
August 23, 2016, 11:52 AM

— -- "Cheap Flight Day" is here, which means it’s time to start planning that fall vacation.

Whether you’re looking to catch some rays, enjoy the fall foliage, or explore historic sites, we’ve compiled all the details you need to know to make the most of your vacation time.

Let’s start with the basics.

Another Kind of Back-to-School Deal

Today marks the day when airlines begin to slash prices after the summer high season. Airlines, facing decreased demand after Labor Day, are looking to fill empty seats.

“With kids back in school, you have a smaller pool of people traveling,” says Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare, a website that tracks airline ticket prices.

For travelers who are not tied down by a school schedule, now can be an opportune time to find an affordable flight to popular destinations.

Smart shoppers will search for the best fares on Tuesday afternoons, Seaney says, when airlines mark down their fares to try to beat competitors.

And when it comes to departure date, timing is also key.

“The three cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday; the most expensive are Monday, Friday and Sunday,” he said.

Low Airfares Will Be Around for a While

If you went over-budget this summer and don’t have the money to buy a ticket today, don’t panic.

Seaney says that today is really the kick-off to “the fall deal zone,” and there’s no particular rush to purchase your ticket right now.

Prices will remain low through the next few weeks, he says. And if you can wait, mid-October should see another “bright point” for cost-conscious flyers, he adds.

However, he says, consumers should be aware of “airline Christmas” –– the last two weeks of December and the first week of January –– when ticket prices will be much higher. The week around Thanksgiving will see similarly higher prices.

Location Is Key When Finding Deals

Consumers are likely to see better deals if they're headed to major cities, Seaney says.

“Smaller cities tend to have a less of a drop," he notes.

Those headed to Florida may find deeply discounted fares as fears about tropical storms and Zika could discourage some from traveling to the state, Seaney says.

Moreover, the fall is a great time to visit Europe, he explains.

With most European shopkeepers back from their summer holidays, tourists with a curious cultural eye will be able to experience the old world at its most authentic, he says. Plus, the lack of summer tourists could mean cheaper prices on things like food and lodging.

“Typically if you want to fly into Europe – the best month in my opinion is November,” he says. “It’s cheaper...and the weather is much cooler.”

It’s also a great time to visit the United Kingdom.

Traditionally, the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and British pound has made travel to Great Britain prohibitively expensive for many budget travelers.

But the recent Brexit vote has caused the pound to plummet in value. As of Tuesday morning, the conversion rate was approximately 10 percent better for Americans than it was before the late-June vote.

Other major geopolitical events are also making some destinations cheaper.

Travelers interested in South America should look to Brazil, Seaney says. Now that the Olympics are over, airfare will "certainly be less expensive," he says.

One place that likely won’t be seeing major discounts is Asia.

“It’s mostly business travel, you don’t see a lot of leisure travel, especially in the fall, so you shouldn’t see as big of a drop,” Seaney advises.

If all else fails, you can always try to marry a pilot.

Related Topics