If you’re not a frequent traveler, Aug. 23 may have no special significance, but for those of us who spend a lot of time in the sky, it can be even better than Black Friday. That’s because Aug. 23, aka Cheap Flight Day, traditionally marks the start of the fall travel season and is the day that airlines frequently drop fares on many if not most of their routes. Here are some answers to common questions about Cheap Flight Day and some tips on getting the best fares out of Austin.
Why Aug. 23? By Aug. 23, the majority of kids have gone back to school and the demand for leisure travel decreases a lot. Airlines know this, so they drop fares by 20 percent or more.
Does this apply to international flights? Yes! You’ll see a drop in fares for international as well as domestic flights.
What are the best days to fly to get a good fare? Traditionally, traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays will get you the best deals, but that can vary widely depending on where and when you’re going.
What happens if I don’t book on Aug. 23? No worries. Cheap Flight Day should really be called Cheap Flight Season, because the reduced fares will continue to be available (and could even drop more) through early November.
How far in advance of my trip should I book? Book at least 30 days ahead.
Where can I go on the cheap in the next few months? Great question. Here’s a sample of some deals I found out of Austin in September and October:Austin to New Orleans, traveling Oct. 14-24: $38 roundtrip on Frontier Airlines. (Note: Frontier is a low-cost airline that charges extra for seats, luggage, etc.) Austin to Denver, traveling Sept. 20-23: $123 roundtrip on Frontier Airlines. Austin to Chicago, traveling Sept. 2-6: $125 roundtrip on American Airlines.Austin to Portland, Oregon, traveling Sept. 13-16: $204 roundtrip on United Airlines. Austin to Vancouver, traveling Sept. 10-16: $313 roundtrip on Delta. Austin to Nassau, Bahamas, traveling Sept. 6-12: $325 roundtrip on JetBlue.
What sites can help me find good deals? If you want to get out of town but don’t care where you’re going, try using airfarewatchdog.com. You can enter your departure city and it will give you a list of places where you can travel for cheap. I also like kayak.com, hipmunk.com and travelzoo.com. And be sure to sign up for weekly alerts and last-minute deal alerts on the major airline websites, including flyfrontier.com/ways-to-save/online-deals, travel.southwest.com/specialoffers and united.com/web/en-US/apps/booking/specials/default.aspx.
What are some other tips for finding deals this fall?Don’t forget to include Houston and Dallas as possible departure cities in your searches, especially for international travel. It can be worth the drive if you can score a low fare. Be flexible with your dates. You know how most airlines offer a calendar view that allows you to see all of the fares to a particular destination for the month? If you have some wiggle room in terms of when you travel, book according to the lowest fare.