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Airfare Expert: Best and worst days to fly in 2018

Travel smarter this year by planning your trips around the dates airfares rise and fall.


Don't be sad that the holidays are over... book a trip! According to an airline expert, January is one of the cheapest months to travel by plane. USA TODAY

Travel smarter this year by planning your trips around the dates airfares rise and fall.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re feeling a little blah because the holidays are over and the dreariness of another winter is upon us, this may perk you up: January is an excellent time to fly because it’s so darn cheap, for domestic travel and Europe. Some examples of round-trip fares, all found within the past few days on FareCompare:

• Los Angeles to Denver — $53
• Chicago to Miami — $63
• Boston to Kauai, Hawaii — $482
• New York to Madrid — $382

Of course, what goes down does go right back so let’s take a look at the best and worst days to fly so you can plan accordingly in the new year.

January and February

Best days to fly: Jan. 9 and beyond. This is when the very cheap, post-holiday pricing kicks in. The bargains continue into February.

Worst days: February 15, 16, 17. Prices rise for travel during the President’s Day holiday for weekend trips.

March and April

Best days to fly: Most weekdays.

Worst days: Weekends beginning March 10-11, continuing through April 21-22. This marks the start of the spring break travel season; airlines know most fliers who take these vacations will make it a week-long break and weekend fares rise with demand. But you can make it a cheaper spring break by flying a Tuesday-to-Saturday or Saturday-to-Wednesday itinerary.

May, June, July and August

Best days to fly: May 1-16. Prices will be relatively cheap for both weekdays and weekends.

Worst days: May 17-June 22. Higher, presummer fares kick in with an average price hike for weekdays and weekends of 20%-plus over May fares.

Worst days: June 23 to late August. Summer fares reach their peak, and pricing remains high through Aug. 13, when prices drop for weekday fares.

Fall season

Best day to fly: Aug. 27. This is when the high summer fares drop for weekends as well as weekdays, and lower fares will rule until a big jump for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving falls early in 2018, on Nov. 22. Look for cheap fares the week after the holiday and into early December, when higher Christmas and New Year’s fares kick in.

Europe

Cheap times to fly: Jan. 9-March 16. Prices drop as much as 40% over holiday fares.

Higher fares: May 29-June 15. Fares begin to rise for summer.

Highest fares: June 16-July 15. Peak summer pricing is in effect. Cheaper fall fares take over beginning around Sept. 10.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 names the top 10 countries, cities, regions and best value destinations that Lonely Planet experts recommend travelers experience next year. Click through this gallery to see the winners in all four categories. No. 10 on the list of top 10 countries is South Africa.  Shutterstock

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No. 9 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is China.  Getty Images

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No. 8 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Mauritius.  Getty Images

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No. 7 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Georgia.  Getty Images

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No. 6 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Malta.  Getty Images

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No. 5 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is New Zealand.  Shutterstock

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No. 4 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Djibouti.  Getty Images

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No. 3 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Portugal.  Shutterstock

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No. 2 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is South Korea.  Getty Images

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No. 1 on the list of top 10 countries to visit in 2018 is Chile.  Matt Munro, Lonely Planet

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No. 10 on the list of top 10 cities to visit in 2018 is Oslo.  Mats Anda, Moment RF

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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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