How to Find Cheap St. Patrick’s Day Airfare

by Jessica

January 27th, 2011

stpaddys1You may not be Irish, but on St. Patrick’s Day you can pretend you are. Sure, it might feel more authentic if you don’t have to pretend, but after a few green beers on March 17th no one seems to care what your heritage is anymore anyway.

But unless you’re lucky enough to already live in one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to take a few days off and jet your way to a city that knows how to throw a St. Paddy’s Day party. Of course, the problem with that is the fact that so many people are thinking the exact same thing – and trying to fly to the exact same cities.

Any time there’s a holiday big enough to warrant big traveling crowds, the airlines (cleverly) jack up airfare. So can you still take off somewhere fun for St. Patrick’s Day without paying too much for your ticket? Yes, you can – and we’re here to tell you how.

In truth, finding cheap airfare for St. Patrick’s Day involves many of the same techniques that any holiday travel does – but unless you’re a frequent traveler you may not know all the things to look for. These tips will help you find St. Patrick’s Day travel deals, and will also serve you well no matter when or where you’re traveling in the future.

Here are our top tips for how to find cheap St. Patrick’s Day airfare.

>> March 17 is on a Saturday in 2012. 

Get Flexible

One of the best ways to save money on airfare, regardless of when or where you’re flying, is to stay flexible with your travel dates and times. If you’re locked into a particular date or time of day, you might get lucky and that date or time might be the cheapest – but the chances of that are pretty slim. And, of course, you won’t know for sure unless you check.

Some booking sites make it really easy to be flexible with your itinerary because there’s a little box near where you put in your desired travel dates that says something like, “my dates are flexible” – check that, and you’re usually given the leeway of looking at prices for a few days on either side of your specified dates. That way you can see right away if there’s a date nearby that offers significant savings.

If the site you’re using doesn’t have that flexible dates check-box, you can still get an idea if there’s a date near your first choice that you should be looking at – you just have to do it manually. Plug in a few different dates (and times of the day) into the search boxes to see what comes up before you book anything.

Check Budget Airlines

Despite the death cries from many airlines in the last year or so, it feels like there are more airlines popping up all the time – and many of them are of the stripped-down super-budget variety. Many of these budget airlines are strictly regional, so you may not know all their names off the top of your head – and they may not serve your home airport. But it’s a very good idea to look at your destination airport to see what low-cost carriers fly there.

Most big cities have at least a handful of low-cost airlines serving them, any one of which could save you money on your flight. You can find out more about budget carriers by reading these articles:

Check Alternate Airports

This tip isn’t going to work with every single destination, but since many of the most popular places to spend St. Patrick’s Day are big cities it’s definitely worth a try. Many big cities have more than one airport that serves the area, and sometimes it’s the secondary airport that has all the best deals.

It’s important to note a few things when you’re looking around at airports other than a city’s biggest airport, however. In some cases those secondary airports are located in the hinterlands, well outside the city center, which means your transportation costs to get from the airport to the city will be higher. But in other cases, the secondary airport will actually be closer to the city (those are often preferred by business travelers).

No matter where the airports are that you’re looking into, just make sure you know your transportation options to and from the city center or wherever you’re headed. To get you started, here’s a list of the alternate airports for some big US cities.

Check Alternate Destinations

Obviously with some special events you’re going to be forced into traveling to one destination – because that’s where the event is. But with St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve got more flexibility with where you go. Sure, there are some places that are more famous for St. Patrick’s Day parties and parades than others, but if you’re more focused on getting out of town than ending up someplace in particular, then you can shop around for a different place to fly that’ll be cheaper than the most popular places.

Cities like Dublin and New York are well-known for their St. Patrick’s Day festivities – but any big city with a sizable Irish population is bound to have enough green beer to go around. Look for what’s happening in Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Seattle, Liverpool, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

photo by Very Quiet

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