Americans are gearing up for the summer travel season in a big way. With airlines operating fewer flights than before the pandemic, average prices are higher than last year—and there’s only one way to lock in the best savings: book early.
“For travelers who have not planned their summer getaways, now is the time to book,” Expedia’s U.S. head of public relations Christie Hudson says, adding that the company’s data shows that searches for summer flights are already up 10 percent compared to this time last year.
When to book the summer flight deals
There are still ways to score decent deals, especially by honing in on periods when demand is lower. According to Expedia data, late August is the cheapest period for flights this summer, when average ticket prices drop $125 compared to the priciest stretch in early July. Similar to last year, that “mini shoulder season” comes just between the periods when families with school-age children take their vacations and Labor Day Weekend.
Even more specifically, Sunday, August 27, which is the weekend before Labor Day Weekend, offers the lowest prices of the season, with August 24 being the quietest travel day. Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, July Fourth weekend is the most expensive time for air travel, with July 1—the Saturday before the holiday—as both the most expensive and busiest day to travel this summer. Average ticket prices for the four-day long holiday weekend are up 12 percent compared to the rest of July.
With the sweet spot to book domestic airfare being about 21 to 60 days before travel—when travelers can save about eight percent—now is the time to cinch those deals for summer getaways. The timeline for international trips is slightly earlier, as Expedia says to book summer and early fall trips sooner than later to lock in the best prices.
And for a super insider-y hack, the travel booking site analyzed billions of data points and discovered that booking your flights on a Sunday can save up to 15 percent on airfare.
Americans are craving global travel
One of this summer's greatest travel trends is just how much interest in international travel has grown. Flight searches for destinations abroad rose 25 percent for June through August, compared to last year, illustrating the desire to travel globally.
But with that widespread desire comes inflated prices. “When it comes to airfare, travelers are seeing the biggest sticker shock for European city destinations like Rome and London,” Hudson says.
In fact, Expedia’s top international destinations are a mix of sunny getaways and European urban hubs, with Cancun snagging the top spot, followed by London, Rome, Punta Cana, and Paris. The trending destinations, however, are all located in the Asia-Pacific, with Auckland at No. 1, followed by Hong Kong, Osaka, Da Nang, and Hanoi. In fact, Japanese cities are trending so highly that searches for Osaka went up 592 percent, Tokyo by 290 percent, and Kyoto by 265 percent.