These travel hacks can find great summer flight bargains

TThe good news is that summer airfares have peaked. The bad news is that they are still very high.

“The reality is that airfares are very high this summer, higher than we’ve seen before,” says Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, the deal-finding site and app. The average domestic flight ticket peaked in early June at around $420 for a round-trip ticket and has fallen back to around $395. But before anyone breaks out the confetti, the peak in June is just the typical seasonal pattern for airfare.

For travelers who think $395 is still too high, Berg says there are still bargains to be found if you know where to look. While several factors are conspiring to drive up airfares—fuel costs, pilot shortages, travel demand—there are also some tried-and-true tricks for predicting when and where airfares will drop.

See where budget airlines are adding routes

Airfare is determined by supply and demand. When an airline adds a new route, it increases competition, which tends to lower prices. “Seeing what new services the airlines are offering, or what network changes the airlines have made for your local airport, is a great travel hack,” says Berg.

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Note that not all airlines are created equal. The best scenario is when a budget carrier introduces new service between two destinations.

“When a low-cost carrier launches a new route from a given airport, prices will drop by an average of 20% for all carriers flying that route,” says Berg. “So if a lower-cost carrier enters a route, it’s a particularly great opportunity for the traveler.”

Using this tip, Las Vegas is poised to be this summer’s biggest bargain, as no destination will get more love from budget carriers. Frontier already connects Vegas to more than 50 U.S. destinations and will begin daily flights from Baltimore, Buffalo, Hartford and Kansas City on August 9. Also in August, Spirit Airlines will add service between Las Vegas and Reno, Boise and Albuquerque. Allegiant will begin Provo-Las Vegas service on August 18.

And hounds can find many other new ways to meditate, as the chart below shows.

The typical pattern is that the incoming airline will usually offer excellent entry fares on the new route. Then other airlines flying the same route will lower their fares, though not always immediately. “Sometimes it takes a while as the new carrier builds the service,” Berg says.

Check for new services from your home airport

Another smart strategy is to stay open to opportunities that arise based on where you live. You may find that an affordable destination is right under your nose.

“Be wary of new airlines entering your home airport,” advises Berg. “You can see what we call fire sales – super low prices advertised by the airline to encourage travelers to start looking at that route for the first time outside of their local airport.”

For example, in April, when Frontier Airlines announced new daily service from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Ontario (California), Phoenix and Tampa, the low-cost carrier sweetened the pot with dirt. cheap plane tickets starting from just $69 to $139 for those routes.

Carriers almost always offer promotions for the first few weeks of the month after a new service starts, Berg says, so eagle-eyed travelers in those areas can expect to find deals on those routes.

Looking for a great deal on international flights from an airport near you this summer? The same golden rule applies. Signing up for alerts from your local airport is an easy way to stay on top of things when service is added to a new destination.

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For travelers willing to let their destination choose them instead of the other way around, money-saving opportunities abound for international travel. Earlier this month Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) announced Finnair’s launch of new service between Seattle and Helsinki and Air Canada’s new Seattle-Montreal route. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) has new JetBlue service to Vancouver. St. Petersburg International Airport Louis Lambert (STL) just announced Lufthansa’s new service between St. Louis and Frankfurt. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has unveiled American Airlines’ new service to Jamaica. Last month, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) announced a new Icelandair route to Reykjavik.

On the horizon: New JetBlue service between Boston Logan (BOS) and London Gatwick begins on August 4 and between Boston Logan and London Heathrow on September 20.

Don’t forget the beginnings

Major legacy airlines may have bigger advertising budgets, but don’t forget to consider the little guys. Last year, three new low-cost airlines – Breeze, Avelo and Aha! — launched in the United States and have focused aggressively on connecting their hubs to underserved regional airports. The common fact is their low and low fees.

Since launching in spring 2021, Avelo Airlines has expanded to both coasts with hubs in Los Angeles, New Haven and Orlando and routes to two dozen other destinations.

Breeze Airways now flies to 30 airports across the US, offering cross-country flights and bringing passengers in significant numbers from the Southeast, from Savannah and Charleston to New Orleans and six hubs in Florida.

Aha!, based out of Reno, now flies to nine regional airports on the West Coast with plans to add two more by the end of the summer.

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