For many families Labor Day is synonymous with the end of summer. It represents the last big family holiday before Thanksgiving and, for most school districts, it is the precursor to the start of a new school year. It is also often considered the last chance for a quick summer vacation.
With this in mind, and with the cost of flights rising, we thought now might be a good time to share some tips and tricks that will help you find the best airfare deals for Labor Day and beyond.
Start looking for flights as soon as possible. For holiday travel in particular, the further out you are from your travel dates, the more likely you are to get a good deal.
Pick the right day
Tuesday and Wednesdays are typically the best days to search for flights because this is when airlines often release their sale fares. Also Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are normally the cheapest days to fly. Often flying on the actual holiday, rather than the day before or after, can lead to better prices and smaller crowds in the airport.
Embrace your impulses
If you see a good price, act on it. Airfare prices fluctuate, so the deal you find might be available for only a few hours. For instance, only this week, Fly.com's deal experts discovered a jaw-droppingly low $337 roundtrip flight from New York City to Tel Aviv, Israel. It turned out to be the result of an airline error but, in the three hours that the airfare was available, more than 5,000 tickets were purchased.
Try to be flexible with your travel dates. Airfare prices are often different from one day to the next. And you will also find that flying outside of peak hours can also be financially beneficial. Flying late morning through afternoon is often a lot more expensive than catching a red eye or hopping on the first flight of the day.
Think "outside the box"
Consider nearby airports. For instance, while it may be more convenient to fly into San Francisco or JFK, flights to Oakland and Newark (respectively) are often a lot less expensive.
Like many travelers, you may have your favorite airline or online travel agent (like Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity) but it doesn't pay to restrict yourself to just one search. Plenty of times, better deals can be found by shopping around. And if you don't have the time to comparison shop, consider using a meta search engine that pulls airfare information (from hundreds of airline carriers and online travel agents) for you.
Look at package deals
It may seem obvious but, if you are not wedded to a specific hotel, consider package deals that bundle airfare with hotel and/or car rentals. Over the years we have seen some spectacular deals where, for as little as $2 more, you can also stay at a top-notch hotel.
Know what you are paying for
At the end of last month, a U.S. appeals court upheld a U.S. Transportation Department rule that states that any airfare shown in an advertisement must be "the entire price to be paid by the customer." This is great news because it means the fare that you see will now incorporate all taxes and government fees. However, there are other fees and charges that you should also know about -- for instance baggage fees.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Thanks to social media there are now plenty of places where you can get alerts about incredible airfare deals. For instance Fly.com's own Twitter feed was named among the best by TIME magazine.
If you are looking for even more of a helping hand, here are some cheap Labor Day flights found by our deal experts.
- - Michelle Erickson is the director of public relations at Fly.com and is based in California. A British native, Michelle has lived on three continents and is an avid traveler.