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Airfare Expert: Cheapest days to fly in 2014

10:27 AM, Feb 16, 2014   |    comments
Planning a trip to London this year? Pay close attention to the calendar, as your airfare could jump several hundred dollars in just a week.
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(USA TODAY) I've written about "magical dates to fly" before, but since these dates change from year to year, it's time for an update. What the magic boils down to is figuring out when the airlines raise and lower prices based on our flying habits and preferences. But what's really magical is the money you can save. I've gone through the data and here are my picks for this year's four magical dates.

Coast-to-coast flights - June 7

Say you want to fly between Los Angeles and New York. You'll find tickets in the low $300s on midweek flights through June 7. Push your flight back a day to June 8 and the price jumps 10 to 15% and remains there for a while. Sunday flights are generally significantly higher.

Europe flights - May 16 and Aug. 23

Fly from New York to London on May 16 and you'll pay about $1,100 for round-trip tickets. Delay your trip a week and watch the price zoom to $1,500, an increase of more than 35%.

We're seeing similar price jumps starting May 17 for summer non-stops from Chicago ($1,800) and Los Angeles ($2,100), so if you can fly May 16 (or earlier), you will save money.

Another way to save is by delaying your trip until the end of summer. On Aug. 23, prices drop back down to May 16 levels (in most cases). Then watch for another price-drop from mid to late October.

Bonus: The magical days of the week to fly for European jaunts are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Avoid Sundays as those flights are typically about $40+ more than the cheaper weekdays.

Caribbean flights - April 24

The magic here has to do with Spring Break travel -- the airlines know many passengers are willing to pay a premium for such trips. Example: Fly from Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 22 or 23 and a round-trip ticket will cost more than $1,000 dollars. Wait to fly until April 24 and the price sinks like a stone to the low $300s.

The moral: It's not always enough to simply compare prices. If your itinerary is at all flexible, you must compare dates as well. Moving travel plans 24 hours one way or the other could save you a bundle.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.

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