Flee The Cold For Less This Spring Break

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

Summary:

  • The good news: overall prices for spring break flights are down about 8% compared to 2014
  • The bad news: the airlines know you’re coming, and you’ll pay up to 40% more for the most popular travel dates and destinations
  • Follow our money-saving tips so you can splurge on a few more umbrella drinks on the beach:

    • The biggest year-over-year price drops are to Miami, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, Hilo (HI) and Montego Bay
    • Plan to fly on a Tuesday to save 5% (a Friday departure will add 18% and a Saturday departure will add 19%)
    • If you can, travel the week of February 23rd or April 20th (traveling the the week of March 23rd will cost you 36% and the week of March 30th will cost you 41%)
    • Book at least two weeks in advance (booking your flight 4-14 days in advance will increase your ticket price by at least 13%)
    • Prices often fluctuate significantly based on variation in demand - use Hopper’s app to plan your trip and we’ll watch for deals 24/7 and notify you when to book
  • If you’ve procrastinated too long and are flexible on your destination, check our GTFO - Get The Flight Out app (formerly Flight Tonight) and you could score a last minute deal to the sun

The Breakdown

With all the cold weather and snow piling up outside, we’ve started thinking about where to get away for spring break. We looked at trips to popular warm weather destinations (Figure 1) from February through April to find the best tips on when and where to go, and how to save.  We used regression modeling on tens of millions of flight searches from all US origins to analyze how different factors interacted to affect prices.

This Year’s Winners and Losers

Overall, flight prices for spring break are down about 8% compared to 2014. Only a few destinations are more expensive this year including Acapulco (up 5.3%), Daytona Beach (up 4.8%), Bermuda (up 4.7%), Pensacola (up 1.5%) and San Juan (up 0.5%). Table 1 shows the biggest year-over-year price drop is to Miami (down 17%), and if you were scrimping last year, there are some great savings for more expensive destinations like Puerto Vallarta (down 15%), Cabo (down 14%), Hilo, HI (down 12%) or Montego Bay (down 11%).

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Table 1: Year over year price comparison for good deal spring break prices from a typical US destination

The Spring Break Price Premium

Our data shows that prices are up to 40% higher for flying from a typical US origin to these destinations during the most popular spring break weeks. However, if you want to save money, when you book your ticket and when you travel matter a lot.

Timing Is Everything

To get the best price for your spring break trip make sure you:

  • Don’t depart on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. A Thursday departure, on average, will add 10% to your ticket price.  A Friday departure will add 18% and a Saturday departure will add 19%.  The best day to fly out is Tuesday, saving you about 5%.
  • If possible, avoid traveling during the weeks of March 23rd or 30th. These weeks will add 36% and 41% respectively to your flight ticket price. The best weeks are those starting February 23rd or April 20th.
  • Book your ticket at least 15 days in advance.  Booking your flight 4-14 days in advance will increase your ticket price by at least 13%.
  • Prices often fluctuate significantly based on variation in demand - use Hopper’s app to plan your trip and we’ll do watch for deals 24/7 and notify you when to book.

If you’ve procrastinated too long and are flexible on your destination, check our GTFO - Get The Flight Out app (formerly Flight Tonight) and you could score a last minute deal to the sun.

Best Bets

If you have to travel during the week of March 23rd or 30th the following destinations tend to offer the best deal for your money, though prices will vary from specific origins (Table 2). If you want to escape the mainland US, Table 3 gives your best bets.

Grab Hopper’s new app or visit our website to find the best deals from wherever you live.

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Table 2: Cheapest destinations during the most expensive spring break weeks, weighted across US origins

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Table 3: Cheapest destinations outside the US mainland during the most expensive spring break weeks, weighted across US origins

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