Is there really a best time to book a flight? Well, Cheap Flight Day falls on Aug. 23, and it’s rumored to be one of the best times of the year to score cheap airfare tickets. Whether you’re searching for a cheap flight for domestic or international travel, you might be able to get a discount on your booking. Take advantage of this opportunity to get cheap flight tickets now for a spontaneous vacation or a trip home for the holidays, because prices will rise again.
How to Get Cheap Flights on Cheap Flight Day
“For most Americans, the first Monday in September — Labor Day — signals the end of summer,” said Brian Ek, a travel analyst at Priceline. “From the airlines’ point of view, it actually ends much sooner — Aug. 23. Historically, that’s when leisure travel ticket demand starts to wane, as many kids — particularly in the southern half of the U.S. — are heading back to school and summer vacations are a distant memory.”
Learn More: The Best Time to Book Your Travel Plans
Consequently, Ek said Aug. 23 has become the traditional day when cheap fall flights officially kick in. “Think of it as Black Friday for airline tickets,” Ek said. “United and Southwest have already rolled out their fare sales, but expect more to follow suit, and expect published fares to drop as much as 10 percent to 20 percent.”
If you’re searching for a cheap flight, use these tips from Ek to score a great deal:
- Be flexible with dates
- Shop around
- Be open to a few different destinations
- Book in the middle of the week, not on weekends
- Book during low-traffic times like early morning and late evening
- Try purchasing two one-way tickets instead of round trip
- Use the Priceline “Name Your Own Price” tool
Cheap Flights for Cheap Flight Day 2016
Whether you’re searching for last minute flights to anywhere or the cheapest flights to a specific destination, it’s always wise to see if you can get a discount on airfare. Celebrate Cheap Flight Day by using these cheap tickets — with help from DealNews — offered by popular airlines to jet out of town.
- American Airlines: Travel from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31 and get up to 30,000 AAdvantage bonus miles by registering your round-trip ticket with promo code AKL16 from May 23 to Oct. 31. Business class fares earn 15,000 bonus miles per round-trip ticket and select economy fares earn 2,500 bonus miles per round-trip ticket.
- American Airlines: Jet off from Miami to Turks and Caicos Islands for as low as $68 one-way, when you book by Aug. 31 on the ShermansTravel site. Additional flight deals from select U.S. cities to the Caribbean are also available through Aug. 31, for travel from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.
- American Airlines: Get round-trip airline tickets from Dallas to Mexico City, Mexico, for as low as $197 when you book through the ShermansTravel site by Aug. 31, for travel from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31.
- Cathay Pacific: Fly round trip from New York to Manila, Philippines, for as low as $546 when you book your flight on the ShermansTravel site by Aug. 31, for trips Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.
- Delta Airlines: Take advantage of Delta Award savings by booking a one-way main cabin Award ticket from Atlanta to Chicago for 5,000 miles, plus taxes and fees, or a Delta Comfort Award ticket for 9,000 miles, plus taxes and fees. Book your reservation at least 21 days in advance and travel between Aug. 23 and Feb. 10, 2017 — excluding certain dates.
- Delta Airlines: Use your Delta Award savings to book a one-way main cabin Award ticket from Seattle to Denver for 5,000 miles, plus taxes and fees or a Delta Comfort Award ticket for 9,000 miles, plus taxes and fees. Book your reservation at least 21 days in advance and travel between Aug. 23 and Feb. 10, 2017 — select dates are excluded.
- Delta Airlines: Cash in your Delta Award savings by booking a one-way main cabin Award ticket from New York to Savannah, Ga., for 7,500 miles, plus taxes and fees, or a Delta Comfort Award ticket for 11,500 miles, plus taxes and fees. Book your reservation at least 21 days in advance and travel between Aug. 23 and Feb. 10, 2017. Discount is not offered for select dates.
- Emirates International: Get round-trip flight tickets from San Francisco to Imam Khomeini, Iran, for as low as $789 when booked on the DealBase site by Aug. 25, for seven-day minimum stays through Dec. 2. Pay with your Visa card and use code USAVISA at checkout to take $50 off economy fares, $250 off business class fares and $1,000 off first class fares.
- Fiji Airways: Book an economy adult round-trip ticket on Fiji Airways from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji, for $899 — airfare typically costs $1,407 — or an economy child round-trip ticket for $609 through Aug. 31. Eligible travel dates include June 16 to Dec. 7 and Jan. 16 to June 15, 2017.
- Fiji Airways: Adult economy round-trip flights from Honolulu to Nadi, Fiji are $845– down from $1,205 — and children’s economy round-trip fares are $571 through Aug. 31. Travel on Fiji Airways between June 16 and Dec. 7 or Jan. 16 and June 15, 2017.
- Fiji Airways: Buy an economy Fiji Airways adult round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Nadi, Fiji, for $899 or an economy child round-trip ticket for $609 through Aug. 31. Eligible travel dates from Dec. 1 to Jan. 29, 2017.
- JetBlue: Travel to Florida this late summer and fall for as little as $127 round trip when booked on the ShermansTravel site by Aug. 31, for select dates in September.
- Norwegian Air: Book a one-way flight from Boston to Fort-de-France, Martinique, for as low as $79 on the ShermansTravel site by Aug. 31, for travel from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31, 2017.
- Qatar Airways: Fly from New York City to Bangkok, Thailand, for as low as $682 when you book your flight through the ShermansTravel site by Aug. 31, for round-trip travel from Sept. 1 to Dec. 11.
- Vietnam Airlines: Travel from San Francisco to Hanoi, Vietnam, for as low as $661 round-trip when you book a flight Monday through Thursday using the DealBase site through March 31.
- Virgin America: Book a flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on the ShermansTravel site for as low as $39 by Aug. 31, for travel from Aug. 23 to Nov. 9. Travel the U.S. with one-way flights on 4-star Virgin America from $39. Travel is valid on select dates in September and October.
Shop Wisely for Cheap Airline Tickets
Despite the publicity surrounding Cheap Flight Day, Clem Bason, CEO of goSeek.com and former president of Hotwire.com, doesn’t think it lives up to the hype.
“I’m personally skeptical that there’s a specific day that offers these savings opportunities,” Bason said. “I’ve seen no data to support that you’re better off buying your tickets right on Cheap Flight Day versus the day before or after.”
Regardless, Bason does believe the idea of getting cheap flights around Cheap Flight Day is valid, as airline tickets do start lowering prices in late August, typically for travel starting after early September. While Bason wouldn’t advise travelers to book plane tickets for the holidays on Cheap Flight Day, he said mid-August is the time to start watching fare sales like a hawk.
“Now is the time to be thinking of booking fall and winter travel, whether it be for traditional holidays — expensive flights around Thanksgiving and Christmas — or for vacations during other periods,” Bason said.