These travel exploits can find huge deals on air tickets in summer

TThe good news is that summer tickets have peaked. The bad news is that they’re still very high.

“The reality is that the cost of travel is very high this summer, higher than we’ve seen before,” says Hayley Berg, chief economist at Huber, the deal-hunting and app website. The average domestic fare peaked at the beginning of June at around $420 for a round-trip ticket, dropping to around $395. But before anyone explodes with scraps, peak in June is just the usual seasonal pattern for airline tickets.

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

See where budget airlines are adding itineraries

Aircraft prices are determined by supply and demand. When any airline adds a new route, it increases competition, which leads to lower prices. “Looking at the new services the airlines are offering, or the changes the airlines have made to the network for your local airport, is really a great travel hack,” says Berg.

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Note that not all airlines are created equal. The best case scenario is when a low-cost airline offers a new service between two destinations.

“When a low-cost airline starts a new route from a particular airport, prices will drop an average of 20% on all carriers that fly that route,” Berg says. “So if a low-cost carrier gets into a route, it’s an especially great opportunity for the traveler.”

Using this tip, Las Vegas is poised to be the biggest deal this summer, as no destination will get more love from budget airlines. Frontier already connects Vegas with more than 50 US destinations and will begin operating daily flights from Baltimore, Buffalo, Hartford and Kansas City on August 9. Also in August, Spirit Airlines will add services between Las Vegas, Reno, Boise and Albuquerque. Allegiant will begin serving Provo-Las Vegas on August 18.

And hounds can find plenty of other new ways to think, as the chart below indicates.

The usual pattern is that the next airline will usually offer great introductory fares on the new route. Then other airlines running the same route will lower their prices, but not always right away. “Sometimes it takes a while with the new carrier building the service,” Berg says.

Watch the new service from your home airport

Another smart strategy is to stay open to the opportunities that arise based on where you live. You may find that the destination of the deal is directly under your nose.

“Keep an eye out for new airlines entering your home airport,” Berg advises. “You might see what we call fire sales — very low prices advertised by the airline to motivate travelers to start looking at that route for the first time outside of their home airport.”

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

Carriers always offer promotions in the first few weeks of the months after a new service launches, Berg says, so travelers interested in Eagle in those areas can expect to find deals on those routes.

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

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For travelers willing to allow their destination to be chosen rather than the other way around, opportunities to save money for international flights abound. Earlier this month, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) announced the launch of Finnair’s new service between Seattle and Helsinki and the new Air Canada route between Seattle and Montreal. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) has a new JetBlue service to Vancouver. St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) has announced a new Lufthansa service between St. Louis and Frankfurt. Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has revealed a new US airline service to Jamaica. Last month, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) announced a new Icelandic route to Reykjavik.

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

Don’t forget the beginners

Older airlines may have bigger advertising budgets, but don’t forget to think about these little ones. Last year, three new low-cost start-up airlines – Breeze, Avelo and Aha! It was launched in the United States and focused firmly on connecting its hubs with underserved regional airports. The common denominator is their low and low wages.

Since its launch in the spring of 2021, Avlo Airlines has expanded to both coasts with hubs in Los Angeles, New Haven and Orlando and routes to more than two dozen other destinations.

Breeze Airways now flies to 30 airports across the United States, offers flights across the country and takes passengers to a number of Southeast gems, 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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