With beautiful beaches and an international vibe, it’s easy to see why Miami is a popular year-round tourist destination.
And while that means travelers can typically expect consistently good weather, it can also make it more difficult to take advantage of low-season lulls.
In general, the more you know, the easier it will be for you to find the best deal for your specific trip to Miami. Set airfare alerts, and watch your route to familiarize yourself with standard costs (and to better recognize a deal).
The best strategy for finding a cheap flight will vary greatly depending on your unique travel plans. If you don’t have a set time frame to travel, looking at a range of dates can greatly increase your chances of spotting a deal.
As for when to buy, that varies, too. The earlier you look, the more opportunities you have to find a deal. Flight prices tend to remain stable between five and two months before a flight (though not always), and then they rise or drop depending on the route’s popularity.
More than 50 airlines service Miami’s main airport, Miami International Airport (MIA). Only two low-cost carriers fly here: Sun Country Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
Many major budget airlines, however, fly in and out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just 30 miles north of downtown Miami. Allegiant Air, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Virgin America are some of the low-cost carriers that service flights to and from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport.
If your schedule is flexible (or if you were planning on renting a car anyway), flying into Fort Lauderdale could save you money on your Miami trip. Be aware that traffic on the crowded corridors that connect the two cities — the Florida Turnpike and Interstate 95 — can mean that the 30 mile trip might take an hour or more.
Where to Find a Good Deal
The best deals are found by shopping around. Some airlines, like Southwest, don’t share their pricing data, so they won’t show up in the results of any major travel search engine. It’s worthwhile to conduct searches on your online service of choice (Google Flights, Kayak, and Momondo are all useful tools) and then to check back on Southwest’s website to compare prices and available flights (if you can fly out of Fort Lauderdale, that is).
To get a sense of the difference in flight prices between the two major area airports, run searches for airfare that include both.
When to Buy
Miami is a popular destination year round, but high season rolls around in deep winter. December through February are the busiest — and most expensive — months to travel to Miami, but also some of the city’s most exciting. (Art Basel in Miami Beach takes place around early December every year, though the exact dates vary.)
Ultimately, when and where to purchase your flight to Miami will depend on how flexible you are — not only with dates but also with whether or not you need luggage (budget airlines often charge extra for checked bags) and how easy you’d like your trip to be. You can save a lot of money by having a 36-hour layover somewhere, but is that really how you want to spend your vacation?
So set alerts and check ticket prices regularly. If you’re lucky, you might even find a flash sale with ultra-cheap flights to Miami.
by Molly Mcardle – travelandleisure.com