Airfare Watch: Book Now to Take Advantage of Cheap Tickets

While you may be dreaming of a summer vacation, a change of plans might be in order. Airfares can be radically cheaper in January and February, when airlines offer great deals to fill up planes during the slowest travel months of the year.

George Hobica of travel website tells the Associated Press that so-called retaliatory fares are common in slower travel periods as airlines fight over a limited amount of customers.

Hobica says many of these winter sales go unadvertised, so travelers should set fare alerts from multiple travel booking websites. Orbitz, Expedia or other travel sites like Travelzoo or TripAdvisor are good bets.

Fares for flights through mid-February can be as much as 50% lower than summer ticket prices, but they go up fast: around Feb. 15, prices rise as many school vacations begin. Usually, they go up again at the end of March, when the spring travel season starts.

Best deals are usually found on routes with the most competition, which right now includes flights between Denver and the East Coast and between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Hobica says flights to warm weather destinations are your best bets for winter deals, including California and some parts of the Caribbean.

Other perks to winter travel include less-crowded flights, which in turn can mean your flight will be on time since there are less people to board. Hotels and car rentals also usually jump on the bandwagon, offering lower deals to entice travelers.

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