TIME IS MONEY
What's the cheapest time of year to fly? For many domestic destinations, the answer is now, according to a new analysis by the travel site Hipmunk. Based on data from 18 months of flight bookings, January is one of the two cheapest months to visit two-thirds of the top U.S. destinations. We've narrowed Hipmunk's list of 120 cities to the 50 places where travelers can save the most on airfare by going at the right time.
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PHOENIX: SAVE $47
With year-round sun and warmth, golf courses, and high-end resorts, Phoenix has a lot of fans. January is the cheapest time to fly there, at $292. March and July are the most expensive months, with prices around $339.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: SAVE $55
Charlotte is home to popular attractions such as the Levine Museum of the New South and Discovery Place, a hands-on science museum. The best time to visit is February, when the average airline ticket cost is $349. July is priciest, with an average ticket cost around $404.
DETROIT: SAVE $65
The Motor City is best visited now if budget is an issue: The average January ticket price is $265. October is a second option, as tickets drop to $275. The priciest time to fly to the birthplace of Motown Records is December, when tickets average about $330.
MILWAUKEE: SAVE $82
This is another city that's cheapest to visit in January, when the average price is $331. February is the second-cheapest month, at $344. The most expensive time to see what's brewing is November, when ticket costs rise to about $413.
ATLANTA: SAVE $73
Key in the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta is filled with cultural and historic sites. The least expensive month to fly there is January, at an average of $228; second-cheapest is September, when tickets average $235. But Atlanta never gets very expensive. The priciest month of the year is June, at $301.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: SAVE $73
A city that's practically synonymous with Elvis Presley and famous for the blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll music that took shape there, Memphis is wildly popular to visit. January is cheapest for airline tickets, at $353, and December is most expensive, at $426.
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN: SAVE $74
How about spending a May day at Grand Rapids' highly regarded Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park? The average cost to fly there is $432. The most expensive time of year is March, when the average price increases to about $506.
PORTLAND, OREGON: SAVE $75
Not only is Portland lovely in the spring, but ticket prices hit their lowest in April, an average of $294. July, though another lovely time to visit, sees the average ticket price jump to $369.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: SAVE $78
Another Southern city famous for its music scene, Nashville is cheapest by far to visit in January, for an average price of $308. The most expensive month is March, when the average ticket price rises to $386.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: SAVE $84
Thinking of saving a few bucks on a trip to New York City by flying into Newark? Think again. It's more expensive practically every month of the year, especially August, when the cost is $389. Newark is cheapest in February, with an average ticket price of $305.
BALTIMORE: SAVE $80
Think August or September for Baltimore. The weather is pleasant and the average ticket drops to $270. In June, the average price to fly to this seaport city, the birthplace of the national anthem, increases to $350.
LOS ANGELES: SAVE $82
To visit the city of stars, with some of the country's best restaurants and fashion-forward shopping, aim to fly in September ($268) or in January, the second-cheapest month ($277). July is the most expensive time, at an average of $350.
SALT LAKE CITY: SAVE $82
There are three cheap months for a Salt Lake City flight. September is best, with an average ticket price of $317, but October and January are $318 and $319 respectively. March is the most expensive time to visit; the average price rises to $399.
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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: SAVE $90
Airfare to Kansas City drops to $321 this month, but it's only $324 in February, and August is an equally inexpensive time to visit. Bad news for anyone heading there for the winter holidays: December brings the most expensive tickets of the year, an average of $411.
MINNEAPOLIS: SAVE $90
Prices to visit Minneapolis' many parks and lakes are rock-bottom in September, when the average ticket is $273. Avoid March, when the average cost is $363.
SEATTLE: SAVE $91
Perched on Puget Sound surrounded by water, mountains, and forests, Seattle is a stunner. April and May are the cheapest times to fly there, at $296 and $309, respectively. In June, the average price spikes to $387. No matter when you go, bring an umbrella.
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NEW YORK: SAVE $93
Broadway shows, shopping, Central Park, the dizzying variety of museums -- what's not to love about New York? Well, potential winter weather, for one thing, but the cheapest time to fly in is right now, at an average of $261. February inches up to $281. July is most expensive, with tickets averaging $354.
SAN DIEGO: SAVE $93
Known as "America's Finest City," thanks to its temperate climate and beaches, San Diego is cheapest to visit in September, when airfare averages $312. By then, the May gray and June fog are gone, and average temperatures are between 73 and 79 degrees. The priciest tickets are found in July, when they average $405.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: SAVE $94
Visit this popular destination in September, when the spring break party crowd has long since gone home, for an average of $218 -- or in January or May, when tickets average $223. On the other end of the spectrum, December airfare reaches a yearly high of $312.
CHICAGO: SAVE $96
The third-most-populous city in the country is cheapest to visit in January, when the average price is $201 -- and the average temperature is likewise low. February is also a bargain at $228. But even in its most expensive month, July, Chicago remains one of the more affordable places to visit. The highest price of the year is $297.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA: SAVE $96
Well-known for its spring break scene, Daytona Beach is actually best visited in May ($354) or January ($372) for bargain airfare. March, the start of the spring break inundation, is the priciest month to fly in -- average airfare increases to $450.
DES MOINES, IOWA: SAVE $97
Visiting Des Moines this year? Go now. The cheapest airfares are available in January, when they average $358. Or try September for around $373. But steer clear of July. It might be a pleasant time of year in terms of weather, but average airfare is a steep $455.
NEW ORLEANS: SAVE $97
The comeback kid of the tourism industry, New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, Cajun cooking, around-the-clock nightlife, and live music. Visit now ($294) or in August ($298). Just don't go in April, when the cost of a ticket spikes to $391.
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: SAVE $100
The Kentucky Derby is in May, yet it's not when flights are most expensive -- July is peak season, with airfare at a yearly high of $504. The cheapest time to visit is January ($404), and in September the average price drops to $423, the second-lowest point of the year.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: SAVE $102
Dating back to 1670, Charleston boasts cobblestone streets, antebellum mansions, and horse-drawn carriages. The cheapest time to fly is a virtual toss-up between August ($321) and January ($323). Avoid November, when the average ticket cost jumps to $423.
DALLAS-FORT WORTH: SAVE $105
January and February are the cheapest months to fly to Dallas-Fort Worth; average ticket prices hit $207 and $237, respectively. Come December, airfare jumps to a peak of $312.
DENVER: SAVE $106
The cheapest months to fly into Denver, a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, are January and October, when average airfare drops to $204 and $225, respectively. July is the most expensive month; the average ticket price spikes to a high of $310.
LAS VEGAS: SAVE $107
The city of sin is never truly expensive to visit -- at least when it comes to airfare. But the absolute cheapest flights of the year are in January, at an average of $216. February is second-best, at $224. Las Vegas gets most expensive in May, when the average flight price jumps to $323.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: SAVE $110
Pack the bags ASAP for Disney World. Visiting the home of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck averages $198 this month, by far the lowest airfare of the year. Next cheapest is February, when ticket prices are around $241. Avoid November and December, when flights average $308.
WASHINGTON: SAVE $111
Perhaps a visit to "the swamp" seems unappealing now. But just in case: January is the cheapest time to visit, at $269 a ticket. July, when D.C. is on the humid side, is the most expensive time, at $380.
CINCINNATI: SAVE $114
The average price to fly to Cincinnati for its robust arts scene, sports teams, and well-respected aquariums and zoo is most affordable in January: $333. Come March, visitors will find the highest average ticket price of $447.
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: SAVE $116
The cheapest time to fly to Alabama's most populous city is March, followed by May. In those two months, average airfare drops to $435 and $436, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the average ticket cost spikes more than $100 in November, to a high of $551.
HOUSTON: SAVE $116
January and September are two months to keep in mind if you're Houston-bound. Average airfares are $289 and $294, respectively. As with many other cities on this list, December is the most expensive time to fly, with ticket prices jumping to about $405.
MIAMI: SAVE $119
Itching to check out famed South Beach, with its glamorous homes, art deco buildings, and stellar beaches? The cheapest time to fly there is January, when prices dip to $265 -- convenient considering how cold it gets farther north. But in December, the average ticket price climbs to $384.
BURLINGTON, VERMONT: SAVE $123
The home of Ben & Jerry's, the University of Vermont, and good skiing, Burlington is popular year-round. In April, flights average $358. July is the priciest time; the average airfare is $481.
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: SAVE $126
High in the desert, Albuquerque is popular for many reasons, including its Old Town dating back to 1706, historic adobe buildings, and museums. The cheapest month to visit is January, when the average airfare is $362. The most expensive is July, when flying into Albuquerque spikes to $488.
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: SAVE $142
Louisiana's capital is known for its vibrant culinary scene and live music. Consider visiting in October, when prices drop to a low of $375. Avoid planning a visit in June, when the average airfare reaches a high of $517.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING: SAVE $144
Popular for its proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and many ski resorts, Jackson Hole is cheapest in April, with average airfare of $514. January and November (not bad skiing months) represent the second-cheapest times, averaging $525. On the other end of the spectrum is June, when the average price reaches $658.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO: SAVE $154
If the to-do list includes visiting the foot of the Rockies and famous Garden of the Gods red sandstone formations, pack the bags quick. Airfare to Colorado Springs this month hits a yearly low of $360. June is the priciest time, with ticket prices increasing to $514.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA: SAVE $158
If you haven't seen a Key West sunset or the island's quaint, pastel-hued houses, perhaps 2017 is the year. The cheapest times to fly to Florida's southernmost point are August, when prices average $427, and December, at $485. Just one month earlier, in November, the price reaches a peak of $585. Perhaps Thanksgiving in Key West is not meant to be.
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PHILADELPHIA: SAVE $158
Best to appreciate the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historical sites in Philly now. January sees the cheapest average cost of the year, at $294. December sees airfare spike to an average high of $452.
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: SAVE $171
Some of the cheapest times to fly to this popular coastal vacation spot are also some of the nicest times to be there. August is cheapest ($278) and September is second-cheapest ($289). The most expensive month by far is December, when the average price spikes to $449.
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KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE: SAVE $177
Visit Knoxville, an under-the-radar destination becoming known for live music, culture, and cuisine, in August or September, when airfares drop to $425 and $455, respectively. The most expensive month is February, when the average price reaches $602.
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: SAVE $178
Famous for cultural sites and as a gateway to stunning wilderness, Anchorage promises savings when timed wisely. The cheapest months are April and October -- the average flight drops to $494. Avoid February if you can, when airfare jumps to $672.
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA: SAVE $188
Motion picture titans such as Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures began setting up shop in Burbank, about 12 miles north of L.A., as early as the 1920s. Today the city hosts giants such as Nickelodeon Animation and Disney. Fly in October for an average price of $251. Skip June, when the average cost is $439.
BOSTON: SAVE $201
A visitor could easily spend weeks in Boston, between its history, restaurants, museums, shoreline, and some of the country's most famous colleges. To score a bargain, plan for May, when flights drop to $286, and avoid December. The weather is risky and flying averages $487.
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA: SAVE $223
For a destination best known for pristine beaches, it's unfortunate but not surprising that the most affordable tickets are available in the dead of winter: December prices drop to an average of $401. The second-cheapest time is January, at $422. April brings the most expensive airfare -- an annual high of $624. Those determined to visit during summer should aim for August, by far the cheapest of the warm months. Ticket prices average $451.
HONOLULU: SAVE $247
Flying to Hawaii is rarely a bargain; ticket prices are among the most expensive in Hipmunk's analysis. The cheapest it gets is February's average price of $614, followed by January at $632. For the rest of the year prices hover between $700 and well over $800, reaching a peak in July of $861.
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ASPEN, COLORADO: SAVE $335
The rich and famous fly in and out of this ski mecca on private jets. Even commercial travel in Aspen's cheapest month -- September, when the average cost of flying is $511 -- is not all that cheap. The most expensive month is May, when the average ticket price is $846.
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PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND: SAVE $370
Home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence is a charming, walkable city. Fly to Rhode Island's capital in January for $322. Don't bother in November, when ticket prices rise to $692.
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