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Airport Booking Strategy

Last-Minute Labor Day Airfare Is Crazy Cheap This Year

Looking for a last-minute Labor Day getaway? This is a good year for it, according to fare search data from Hopper. Average airfares for Labor Day weekend are lower this year than they have been in four years, but probably only if you buy your tickets before August 17.

Through August 17, fares will increase about $3 a day, but after that date, fares will increase $10 to $15 a day. Hopper’s findings are based on thousands of actual airfare searches. Overall, Labor Day fares this year are the lowest they’ve been since 2015—even despite the fact that fuel costs are up substantially.

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The best Labor Day airfare bargain destinations are concentrated in the Southeast, including Fort Lauderdale ($178), Orlando ($183), Atlantic City ($186), Myrtle Beach ($189), Atlanta ($206), and Tampa ($215). Chicago ($218), Trenton (New Jersey, $220), Denver ($225), and Detroit ($239) are close.

Here are the best dates for those deals on Labor Day airfare:

  • The best days to start a weekend trip are on August 28 and 29 and September 1.
  • The best days to return home are September 4, 5, and 6.
  • The most expensive days in both directions are August 31 and September 1.

But if your travel dates aren’t fully flexible, fares outside the two highest days aren’t different enough to make most of you need to shift travel plans. Keep in mind that the Hopper data covers average fares: On any individual route, this year’s fares could well be higher than last year’s. It’ll also depend which airports you use—but there’s reason to believe you can still look for a last-minute Labor Day airfare deal.

[st_related]The Best Days to Fly for the 2018 Holiday Season: A First Look[/st_related]

The overall good news is that current airfares are remarkably steady, a situation that can’t go on forever, given the recent increases in fuel prices.

More from SmarterTravel:

Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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