We’ve all heard that Tuesday at 3 p.m. is the best time to buy airline tickets — or is it Wednesday at 1 a.m.? Wait, no — it’s actually over the weekend. (Or is it?)
Airlines seem to surprise us with random airfare deals and price hikes, but is there a pattern to their seemingly unpredictable fares?
KCL dug through America’s top airlines’ sites and social media pages searching for patterns over the last several years. Here’s what we found:
1. Southwest Airlines
June & October
Over the past three years, Southwest Airlines has offered their famed 72-hour sale in June and October (usually starting on a Tuesday). Here were the dates the sale was offered:
- 2018 – June 5-7 & Oct. 2-4
- 2017 – June 6-8 & Oct. 10-12
- 2016 – June 7-9 & Oct. 4-6
Southwest’s three-day sale price tiers were typically $49, $99, $129 and $149 each way, and increased in price depending on the distance flown. However, since 2017, the tiers have been $49, $79, $99 and $129.
Check directly on Southwest.com and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to catch the sale as soon as it starts!
Tuesdays at 3 p.m.
OK, so the Tuesday at 3 p.m. rule actually applies to Southwest tickets. Every week Southwest sends special fares out via email to all their Click ‘N Save subscribers on Monday evening and by Tuesday afternoon, they’ve mostly price matched other airlines. In other words, they check to see if anyone else is offering any cheaper tickets to see if they need to drop their prices even more.
Joining the email list is free and you can expect to receive weekly deals that typically run for three days, usually ending on Thursday of that week.
Over the last few years, Southwest has consistently had a big Black Friday sale that lasts for either 24 hours or several days before or after Black Friday.
In the past couple of years, they’ve been offering up to $250 off the locations they offer.
BONUS: Southwest offers one free alcoholic drink for passengers who fly on these major holidays: New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, June 18 (Southwest’s birthday), Father’s Day, Independence Day, Sept. 20 (Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card’s birthday), Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
2. JetBlue Airlines
September-November Flash Sales
Last year in early September, JetBlue offered a two-day sale with fares starting at $49 and in late October had another two-day sale where we found flights as low as $44.
JetBlue’s “Dash Away Sale” was pretty great this year.
They offered one-way ticket prices in the country as low as $34. The catch was they had to be between Jan. 8 and March 27, excluding some days in February. Some of the deals included were:
- Long Beach to San Jose – $34
- Atlanta to Orlando – $44
- New York to Boston – $64
3. Alaska Airlines
Alaska’s Cyber Monday sale is the biggest all year. Every year they’ve had steep discounts on popular routes throughout North America. This past year, round trips started for $68.
Just be sure to read all the fine print. The tickets were only available for trips between Jan. 8 and Feb. 13.
Mondays & Tuesdays
Every Monday go to AlaskaAir.com to view new Web specials. We’ve seen one-way tickets for as low as $49.
The 3 p.m. Tuesday rule is also accurate for Alaska airlines because the sales are launched Monday evening and airlines are scrambling to offer the best deal.
If you sign up for their Alaska Airlines Insider newsletter, you’ll typically receive flight specials on Tuesdays.
Follow Alaska Airlines on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know.
4. Delta Airlines
The Black Friday deals this past year were available through the Sunday after Thanksgiving and included discounted fares for cash or mileage payment such as a $750 ticket from New York to Brussels and a trip from Boston to Dublin for 36,000 miles.
This past year, Delta offered one-way tickets as low as $109 with the purchase of a round-trip ticket within the U.S. They also had different sales on round-trip tickets including to London for $629.
Eligible travel dates are usually for the winter months and include blackout dates.
5. Frontier Airlines
This past Black Friday Frontier offered 99% off round-trip domestic flights with some exclusions. Some tickets were as low as $32!
6. Hawaiian Airlines
Previously, Hawaiian airlines offered a stellar winter sale that only lasted a few days (starting January 5, 2018, January 2, 2017 and January 19, 2016). One-way flights from the mainland to Hawaii for dates between January and March started at just $169. Sales this year began on January 2 starting at $297 roundtrip.
This past year, they offered a sale at the end of December that had round-trip flights as low as $457.
For the last three years, Hawaiian Airlines has offered round-trip flights to Hawaii starting at $378. The sale typically lasts just a few days. You’ll wanna follow them on Facebook and Twitter for flash sales as well.