With Black Friday and Cyber Monday anchoring an ever-growing calendar of holiday marketing gimmicks, consumers have no shortage of deal-hunting opportunities around the Thanksgiving holiday.
That’s especially true in the travel industry, where hotels, cruise lines and other travel providers all get in on the act.
Airlines are in the mix too, though holiday bargain-seekers looking for airline deals might be advised to temper their expectations.
There are several reasons for that. First, airline sales have become ubiquitous. It’s common to see them throughout the year, often at prices so low that they'd be hard to top.
With fares to Europe now regularly less than $500 round-trip and with domestic sales that drop fares to less than $100 round-trip at least twice a year, can “Cyber Monday” or “Black Friday” holiday sales be that much better? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean thrifty fliers should ignore them altogether.
Some of the holiday sales will offer decent, if not jaw-dropping, bargains. Or maybe this is your chance to snag one of those low fares you missed during a previous sale. Also note that at least one fare-monitoring site suggests this year’s best holiday-themed sales may actually come out on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
We’ve included a handful of airline holiday sales below, and we’ll continue to add noteworthy ones to the list as they’re announced. Some will be flash sales that aren't announced until later in the week, so it pays to keep an eye open for updates.
Regardless, always read the fine print. Restrictions can include available travel dates, day-of-the-week exclusions or restrictions on fare types. Some may exclude one-way fares. Others will reveal flashy “half off” discounts, but the fine print might reveal that’s only from an expensive “full-fare” ticket. Also, remember, most sales cover weak periods of the year when fewer people want to travel – and those are the seats that the airlines are hoping to offload on you.
Now, with all of that out of the way, here are some of the earliest promotions that you might want to check out. We'll update with other noteworthy deals as they roll out.
This Icelandic discounter is known for its bargain basement fares between the U.S. and Europe, previously offering fares as low as $69 one way. Its “Purple Friday” deal isn’t that good, but WOW is offering fares for as little as $99 one way from a handful of U.S. cities. Seats from the West Coast begin at $129.
But this “Purple Friday” sale actually began Monday, and the cheapest seats will sell out as customers book them. And, remember, WOW charges extra for nearly everything beyond walking on to the plane.
One early "Black Friday" deals comes from Cathay Pacific, which is discounting business-class fares from the U.S. to Asia by as much as 60%. While fares of about $3,200 aren't pocket change, it is a relative bargain for business-class seats on one of the world's best airlines. Early searches showed decent availability to Hong Kong, but spotty availability to other Asian destinations.
Also part of the Black Friday deal are Cathay Pacific's highly regarded Premium Economy seats. Tickets for those seats begin at around $1,200 round-trip, about half off typical fares.
For both deals, tickets must be booked by Nov. 29 for travel between Jan. 1 and May 23.
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Delta is touting "Black Friday" deals to one of its newest destinations: The Azores. The route was just announced in September, when Delta said it would add flights from its hub at New York JFK to the Portuguese-controlled island chain in the North Atlantic. Flights to the Azores’ main international airport in Ponta Delgada will start May 24 and run through Sep. 3, adding a new destination to Delta’s route map.
A round-trip purchase is required, with coach-class fares ranging from $599 to $919.