The best US flight deals for 2021 and when to book

There is no shame in deciding on a trip because you got a good deal on airline tickets. (We do this all the time.) These 10 domestic destinations are your best bets for cheap flights this year.

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There are the dreams of travel, and there are the dreams of travel fueled by business. While there are plenty of places worth saving and splurging for, neither are we above planning a trip entirely around a sweet airfare deal.

That’s why we were very excited when Scott’s Cheap Flights airfare deal tracker sent us a list of the US cities with the most flight deals this year. For those who haven’t yet decided exactly how and where to use their remaining paid vacation for 2021, this list may offer some ideas. These destinations are particularly good for deals because of the importance of air travel and competition: the more airlines that fly there, the more likely you are to find deals.

Separately, travel booking site Hopper also sent us a list of US destinations with the cheapest airfares this year based on their search and booking data. While the two sites differ in how they get their data and how they calculate their rankings, it’s worth comparing the two. For example, of Hopper’s 100 most searched destinations this summer, many of the ones with the lowest average round-trip airfares are in Florida (6 of the top 10).

“When we performed an analysis in May on the states that had received the most new routes from carriers during the pandemic, Florida led the rankings with 59 new routes to leisure destinations among five of the carriers we analyzed. “Hopper reported. This huge increase in flight capacity explains why Florida appears on both lists multiple times.

The best time to book a trip for good deals

In order to find the best prices, “a good rule of thumb is to book the plane ticket no later than three weeks before your scheduled departure date, regardless of the destination,” according to Hopper. Hopper’s data shows that airfares tend to increase in the two weeks before departure, increasing by 25% two weeks later and an additional 30% in the last week.

For Labor Day trips, Hopper recommends booking no later than August 15, and for early fall trips soon after.

Scott’s Cheap Flights says travelers looking for deals should book even earlier. For domestic flights, Scott’s recommends researching one to three months before flying. For peak periods such as vacations, you should start looking and booking in three to six months.

The reverse is true for city hotel stays, according to Hopper. The site suggests looking for last-minute deals when booking hotels in major cities. “We are seeing hotel prices per night in major cities drop an average of 13% in the last two weeks leading up to check-in,” notes Hopper.

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While this might work for cities, it won’t work for national vacation spots (beaches, mountain towns, and national parks, for example), which are seeing an increase in demand this year as many travelers are still forgoing international travel amid the pandemic. “If you’re heading to a smaller vacation destination, we recommend that you book your accommodation at least a month in advance,” Hopper advises.

American cities with the best flight deals

This list is based on the report that Scott’s Cheap Flights sent us. So when we call the average airfare OK, which is different from the average standard airfare. And the averages are for all flights to the destination from across the United States.

1. Los Angeles

The average price for round-trip plane tickets to Los Angeles this year is around $ 121, and the massive Southern California hub has direct flights to and from more than 100 destinations across the country. LA also happens to be one of our absolute favorite American cities, with great food, a vibrant arts scene, beaches, and new hotels galore. Whether you’re staying in the city to explore coastal towns like Santa Monica, Venice, or Malibu, or the revitalized downtown, or using LA as a stepping stone to visit Joshua Tree, Santa Barbara, or Orange County, you can’t not go wrong with a trip to LA

2. Honolulu

Oʻahu is cheaper than you might think.

Who doesn’t want to go to Hawai’i this year? Despite a surge in demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands in 2021, there are still excellent flight deals to Honolulu with average fares of $ 360 round trip. This is likely in part due to a sharp increase in flights to Hawai’i, as airlines rushed to add flights to the destination in response to the high demand. You can travel to Honolulu on the island of O’ahu from dozens of US cities including Alaska, America, the Delta, Hawaii, the Southwest, and the United States. There are also plenty of great deals for other Hawaiian islands, notes Scott’s Cheap Flights. If you’re worried about the crowds, book a little further in the fall, when the summer rush cools off.

3. Las Vegas

You can celebrate just about anything on the Strip.

We’ve been thinking of Las Vegas ever since we first heard about the Singaporean-style hawking center that debuted in Vegas this summer as part of the new Resorts World Las Vegas, a 24,000-square-foot space featuring hand-drawn noodles, terracotta dishes, Hong Kong-style dumplings, and South Indian roast flatbread. And of course, there is also the pomp and glamor of the brand. If you miss the Strip, airfare deals to Vegas average $ 128 this year.

4. San Diego

There's no bad time to book a trip to San Diego, California.

If you’re looking for sand, surf, and ridiculously perfect weather, head to San Diego in sunny Southern California. Airline deals average around $ 144, and there are plenty of reasons to visit San Diego this year, including the new Komodo dragon and hummingbird habitats at the San Diego Zoo and the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, a new year-round outdoor concert hall with downtown and bay views; it begins hosting live shows on August 6. Or aim for the quieter Carlsbad for great food and family fun (Legoland, are you up to it?). There is direct service to San Diego from 67 airports across the United States

5. Fort Lauderdale

If the canals of Venice are out of reach this year, head to the canals of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Florida’s “Venice of America” ​​offers many beaches, a thriving arts scene, and international cuisine that are well worth a visit. Scott’s Cheap Flights has spotted deals to Fort Lauderdale starting at $ 58 round trip and averaging around $ 149 round trip. Southwest and JetBlue are among the airlines that serve Fort Lauderdale, which serves some 80 airports across the country. Travel booking site Hopper also reported that Fort Lauderdale is the American destination with the cheapest airfares this summer, with an average round-trip airfare of $ 184.

6. Denver

Embrace the restaurant and drink scene in Denver.

Whether you want to travel to Denver as a base for exploring the Rocky Mountains and nearby National Forests or just exploring a city that has become a hub for the creative arts and craft breweries, with airfares averaging $ 111. $ round trip, neither is the wrong option. All major US airlines serve Denver and there is direct service from 189 US destinations.

7. Phoenix

Fly to Phoenix to access breathtaking desert landscapes.

It’s a dry heat, isn’t it? The peak desert season is fast approaching, so now is the perfect time to search for flight deals to this Arizona hub, where there is an abundance of restaurants to explore and beautiful scenery to do. hiking. Stay in Phoenix or set out from the city for an epic road trip to the Grand Canyon. Flight deals average $ 111, with over 100 direct flights from the United States

8. Chicago

Now is the time to take in a breathtaking view of Chicago's awe-inspiring skyline.

Go for the architecture, stay for the food (which is so much more than stuffed pizza and hounds, okay? Not that there is anything wrong with pizza and Polish sausage). Chicago is always a good idea, especially in late summer and early fall when the weather is best. You can find airfare deals starting at $ 57 round trip and averaging around $ 100, with domestic flights to Chicago typically ranging from $ 250 to $ 300.

9. Miami

Night life ?  To verify.  Beaches?  To verify.  Good food?  To verify.  Miami has so much to offer.

Now is a great time to plan a late fall or early winter getaway to vibrant Miami, Florida, where culture and cuisine are as appealing as palm-fringed beaches. Miami also ranks third on Hopper’s list of cheapest domestic destinations, after Orlando (see below). Hopper’s data showed a round-trip plane ticket to Miami averaging $ 216, while Scott’s Cheap Flights saw deals for plane tickets to Miami averaging $ 121 round-trip (with some offers flight from Miami as low as $ 58 round trip).

10. Orlando

Sometimes you just need a good theme park fueled getaway.

If you missed out on the theme park thrills, head to Orlando to get your fix. Airfare deals to the Florida home from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, among other parks, average $ 138 this year. Hopper ranked Orlando as the second cheapest domestic destination this year, with average airfares of $ 211. The booking site also ranked Orlando as the # 1 destination for affordable domestic travel overall by looking at air fares combined with hotel rates.

In addition to the above, a few honorable mentions go to Myrtle Beach, SC; Atlanta, Georgia; and Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota, all of which made Hopper’s top 10 for cheapest flights to the United States.

Ready, ready, book.

>> Next: 7 American cities to visit this summer