Everyone knows holiday travel is the kiss of death. It’s not even fall yet, and already travelers are gearing up to face the worst of the worst — packed airplanes, flight delays and cancellations, grumpy passengers and ridiculous ticket prices.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a flight delay. You’ve taken off work, driven to the airport, paid for parking and waited for hours — just to have your Thanksgiving travel delayed further. But as any savvy traveler knows, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The only smart way to travel during the holiday season is to avoid peak dates and book in the “dead zones” instead.
What is a holiday dead zone? Dead zones describe the extra-special holiday deals that can be found lurking in the most expensive travel months of the year — November through January. According to ABC News, the term dead zone may be “ecological in origin, referring to low-oxygen areas in oceans and lakes, airlines also experience periods when they’re gasping for passengers. When no one wants to fly, ticket prices nosedive.”
If you don’t want to spend hours in holiday traffic on the way to the airport only to get bumped from your flight at the last minute, then listen up. There are three dead zones you need to know about this holiday season.
You may have to sacrifice Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma, but you can save a serious chunk of change when you fly the first two weeks in November instead. ABC News says that this dead zone “abuts the most expensive and most popular few days to fly in the U.S., that being the Thanksgiving holiday period.”
Pro tip: Fly before Turkey Day or not at all.
The December dead zone starts in the two weeks after Thanksgiving flights have died down, normally extending through to Dec. 17. Most travelers don’t want to fly right after Thanksgiving and may be saving travel miles and cash for a Christmas flight.
Pro tip: Combine your Thanksgiving and Christmas travel into one cheap trip in late November or early December.
After the confetti falls on New Year’s Eve, January is a big, fat stretch of nothing. The biggest dead zone of the entire year occurs from Jan. 7 through to early February.
Pro tip: Delay your big holiday trip, and book rock-bottom prices in a month when no one else wants to fly. Bonus: You might even get a row of seats to yourself.