If you want to get away this summer, you need to look for fares now. In recent weeks, sale prices have slowly risen. The closer it gets to summer, the more likely the deals will dry up.

WHEN TO TRAVEL When searching for summer fares, consider flying midweekon Tuesdays and Wednesdays and also on Saturdays, because those are your best bets for cheap travel days. Avoid travel on Fridays and Sundays; those continue to be the priciest days of the week. If you're traveling with kids, take advantage of the flexibility they have to travel midweek during the summer.

A recent search for nonstop flights from New York to Seattle in July showed fares for midweek travel at $299 - the same route jumps to $419 for weekend.

Between New York and San Francisco, a round-trip weekend day airfare in July was going for $449 as of press time. The rate dropped to $339 for midweek travel; $299 if you can travel midweek and don't mind a one-stop flight.

WHEN TO BOOK Interestingly, the timing of when you purchase a flight can have a significant impact on the fare. Be careful if you're browsing for fares over the weekend. Most sales come out on Tuesdays and are available for purchase for two or three days. If you wait until the weekend to buy, fares can jump by hundreds of dollars. Still, you can see short-lived snooze-you-lose fares any day of the week, so it pays to look every day of the week.

ABOUT PRICES Because airlines have been offering a lot of sales recently, they're running out of cheap seats. If you see a sale to your destination for summer travel, there's a slight chance the price will go down, but a much better chance it will increase as planes fill up.

There never seems to be enough capacity to the West Coast in summer, so if you spot a fare of $270 or less to Seattle, Portland or San Francisco, book it.

Tom Parsons is publisher of Bestfares.com.


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