‘Tis the season to dream of warmer destinations and beautiful beaches — which may make booking a trip on Travel Tuesday all the more tempting, but it turns out they’re often not as good as they appear.
Any excuse to travel is a good excuse if you ask us, but Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure that Travel Tuesday — December 3, this year — may not actually be the best time to look for those coveted flight deals, explaining that great flight deals tend to pop up all year round and are hard to predict.
Of course, there are some deals to be found on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and — yes — even Travel Tuesday, but Keyes said the savviest travelers should be looking constantly.
“If you’re looking to buy a new TV… or a dutch oven, waiting until this holiday weekend makes a lot of sense,” he said. “But airfare is not one of those things that has a predictable time of year that it’s going to be cheapest.”
Travel Tuesday first started around 2017 and has since gained traction among travel providers, USA Today reported. More often than not, however, Keyes said Travel Tuesday is more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
In fact, he said 99 percent of the deals he sends out aren’t even advertised by the airlines. He said carriers tend to do this so they can better gauge market reaction and quietly pull the sale at any time.
“Travel Tuesday is not a day when there’s going to be better deals consistently than the rest of the year. Cheap flights are always popping up,” he said. “They’re not confined to one day, they’re not confined to one week. They’re hidden.”
Keyes added there is one main exception: foreign airlines looking to increase their market share in the U.S. like Air New Zealand and Emirates, both of which consistently have sales throughout the year and over the holiday weekend.
Use these tips from Keyes to snag the best travel deals and make your dream getaway a reality.
Travel planning Credit: Atit Phetmuangtong / EyeEm/Getty Images
Put price first
Keyes said people tend to book flights based on where they want to go and when, often relegating price to the last thing they think about. But you should be doing it the other way around to get the best deals.
“Set price as your first priority,” he said, adding that it’s about “reorienting the way you think of booking and searching for flights.”
Take advantage of the 24-hour cancellation rule
If you book a flight in the U.S. directly with an airline, you cancel within 24 hours without any penalties. This, Keyes said, gives you a lot of flexibility to snag a great deal without pressure and gives you time to check to make sure you can take the time off.
“You lock in the price and then … it gives you time to research it,” he said.
Don’t hold out until the last minute
One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting until the last minute to book a flight, Keyes said. Rather than getting a great last-minute deal, you’re more likely to end up missing a cheap flight that pops up.
“Don’t wait until the last month before a flight hoping that fares are going to drop because they’re not,” he said. “For domestic flights, the general window… is about one to three months ahead of time. For international flights, it’s more like two to eight months ahead of time. If you’re trying to travel during a peak travel period, I would add a couple months onto those booking windows.”
Look at one-way prices
For domestic travel, Keyes said it’s important to check the price for two one-way tickets as it may be cheaper than a round trip one. This does not, however, work for international flights.
“One-way international flights are the most expensive flights,” he said. “A one-way international flight is often times more expensive than a round trip on the exact same route.”