How to Find Cheap Valentine’s Day Airfare
January 12th, 2011
Valentine’s Day may be one of the most maligned holidays of the year. If you’re single, it’s annoying to hear about lovebirds. If you’re in a relationship, there’s always the question of how “big” to go for Valentine’s Day. And to some people, it feels like a holiday that’s been taken over by Hallmark and turned into the antithesis of a romantic occasion.
But here’s the thing – whether you’re in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day is a recognized holiday for which the travel industry typically offers specific travel deals. So if you’re into travel, you’d be crazy not to at least look at them. And when the President’s Day holiday falls right after Valentine’s Day, you’ve got yet another excuse to take a long weekend. Who doesn’t like long weekends?
Here are some tips to help you find cheap airfare for Valentine’s Day trips.
>> Valentine’s Day 2012 falls on a Tuesday.
Be Flexible With Travel Dates
This may seem counter-intuitive, since Valentine’s Day is always on the same date – and if you’re really tied to celebrating Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February you could still get lucky with cheap flights. But if you and your sweetie don’t mind putting off your romantic getaway by even a day or two you could end up doing better on a vacation deal because your travel dates are more flexible.
Some online travel booking sites will do the work for you, in that there’s a box near the place where you input your dates that says something like, “my dates or flexible.” If you check that box it may ask you to choose a range – say, 3 days on either side of the date you put in – but then it’ll search for the best fares in that timeframe so you don’t have to. If you don’t see that option, you can still check flights on several different days and times of the day, you’ll just have to do it manually.
Research & Book Your Trip Early
Valentine’s Day – February 14th – falls on a Monday in 2011, and President’s Day isn’t until the following Monday – so while you don’t get a 4-day weekend this year, you do get a good excuse for a 3-day weekend. This also means you may be competing with more travelers for the best deals. So if you’ve got your heart set on a long romantic weekend, you’ll want to make sure you’ve booked your trip early.
Another tool many online booking sites have is that they’ll alert you (usually via email) when the price on a particular fare you’re watching goes up or down by a specified amount. If you sign up for these alerts for whatever destinations you’re thinking of visiting for Valentine’s Day (or any other trip, for that matter), you’ll be among the first to know when a ticket price changes. That way you can pounce on a deal as soon as you see it.
Use Alternate Airports
As long as the destination where you want to spend your romantic Valentine’s Day weekend isn’t a tiny island or a remote location with only one airport for hundreds of miles, then it’s worth checking around to see what other airports might serve the area. Most big cities have a few airports you can choose from, and sometimes it’s the smaller airports that offer the best prices.
Keep in mind these airports are sometimes further away from the city you’ll be going to – although in some cases they’re closer! You just need to make sure you’re paying attention to where the airport is in relation to your hotel, and also note what kind of transportation options you’ll have waiting for you when you arrive.
>> Read more about alternate airports to the big U.S. hubs
Look at Budget Airlines
Maybe you’re not picky about where you want to spend Valentine’s Day. Any place can be romantic as long as you’ve got your sweetheart nearby, right? If that’s your line of thinking, and you just want to get out of town wherever it might be inexpensive to do so, then one great way to get cheap airfare is to check out the route maps for the budget airlines that serve your home airport.
There aren’t as many low-cost airlines in the United States as there are in Europe, but there are enough to make it worth looking into. Many budget carriers are region-specific, so there will be some that won’t serve your area – but you’re likely to be familiar with at least some of the cheap airlines that fly in and out of your home airport. Look up their route maps or the list of destinations they cover on their websites, and you’re well on your way to planning a budget-friendly getaway for Valentine’s Day or any other time of year.
Fly When It’s Cheapest
This tip isn’t as easy to put into action when you’re planning a trip around a specific holiday that’s on a specific day, but the truth is that there are certain days of the week on which flights tend to be cheaper overall. It’s not always true, but it’s true often enough to be more than coincidence.
The cheapest day to fly tends to be Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Now, unless you’re taking several days off for a Valentine’s Day trip, flying on Wednesday may not be an option. But if you’re taking advantage of the Monday President’s Day holiday, you might get a good deal on a Tuesday return flight.
In addition to cheap days of the week, there are also times of the day when it’s cheaper to fly – and those are almost always early morning flights. I know that setting an alarm for 4am to catch a 6am flight doesn’t sound terribly romantic, but you might save quite a bit on your airfare – and you can always cuddle on the plane.
photo by brooklyn