Five tactics to save on summer vacation airfares

Peak summer season airfare pricing kicks in around June 15. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to pay premium pricing. Here are five things you can do.

All fares below were found on Farecompare.com on May 12 for round-trip travel in July.

1. Fly to competitive cities.

Each of these cities has lots of competition and are especially hot right now, airfare-wise.

  • Dallas to Denver, $119
  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas, $83
  • New York to Fort Lauderdale, $154

Airfare shopper’s guide: Flight deals from Denver

2. Make short, hub-to-hub trips.

Big airports within a 90-minute flight of each other (give or take) are less affected by big seasonal price hikes. Examples:

  • Los Angeles to Oakland/San Francisco, $91
  • Boston to Newark, $117
  • New York to Chicago, $117

3. Fly on cheaper days.

While this can vary, cheaper days to fly for domestic travel are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. And while flights around holidays are typically very expensive (think Thanksgiving, Christmas and yes, the Fourth of July), flying on the holiday often saves money.

  • Minneapolis - Los Angeles: Fly July 4 for $227. Fly Friday/Sunday, $267.
  • Chicago - Las Vegas: Fly Tuesday/Thursday, $127. Fly Friday/Sunday, $337.
  • Seattle - Los Angeles: Fly Tuesday/Tuesday, $135. Fly Sunday/Sunday, $195.

4. Use a flexible search tool

Many comparison sites have a flexible search tool; use them to find the best deals in a targeted month or season. Again, these are good for travel in July.

  • Minneapolis to Chicago, $81
  • Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, $129
  • Dallas to San Francisco, $157
  • New York to Albuquerque, $242
  • Salt Lake City to Orlando, $269

5. Fly and drive

Let’s say you’re in Denver and you have your heart set on seeing Mount Rushmore this summer. Airfare to Rapid City, S.D., is close to $500 round-trip. The solution is to get creative. We found deals from Denver to Chadron, Neb., for $97; from there, it’s just a 100-mile drive to Rapid City and the presidents.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.

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