Monday, August 11, 2014

Will flying cost less this Labor Day weekend?

Flying away for Labor Day weekend?

The online travel agency  CheapOair said last week that its data is pointing to a lower demand -- and possibly some lower prices -- for domestic destinations for Labor Day vacationers.

CheapOair says these are the most  popular U.S domestic fly-tos (Denver tops the list), what the average round-trip fare is for Labor Day weekend, and how the airfare price has changed from the same weekend in 2013 (the percentage of change is in parenthesis):

Denver: $268 (up 40 percent)
Orlando, Fla.: $269 (down 15 percent)
Tampa, Fla.: $276 (down 6 percent)
Washington, D.C.: $289 (down 16 percent)
Boston: $293 (down 32 percent)
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: $310 (down 26 percent)
Miami: $336 (up 10 percent)
Los Angeles: $339 (down 19 percent)
San Francisco: $354 (down 19 percent)
Seattle: $369 (down 1 percent)

The devil, of course, is in the details: The farther you are from your destination, the more expensive it will be. And what kind of routing is involved? What about departure/arrival days and times go with it?

Consider a quick trip to San Francisco (the Golden Gate Bridge is shown above).

Checking CheapOair at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 11, there were two round-trip fares between Charlotte (CLT) and San Francisco (SFO) at $436.70, including taxes -- one-stop flights via JetBlue. Both leave Charlotte at a reasonable time: 12:12 p.m. or 4:20 p.m. on Aug. 29; on the way back on Sept. 2, they leave San Francisco at 10 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.

The catch? Your one stop is in Boston, where there's a two-hour layover in either direction... making for an eight-hour flight either way.

That said, Labor Day is considered a "drive" holiday, and if airline demand is indeed down this year -- and you don't mind taking a longer, round-about, one-stop journey -- you may find deals out there from discounters or  airlines.