The majority of Americans don’t use all their vacation time (or so said a recent study). If you’ve been hoarding days, the timing is perfect; use them up during the final airline deal zone of 2016. You’ll miss out on some superb fares if you pass up this travel window.

1. When is this last deal zone of the year?

The final deal zone falls mainly in early December, though it does include the last couple of days in November and continues through mid-December. Exact dates vary slightly depending on route and destination.

2. Why is it a deal zone?

This particular zone is a cheap time to fly because it’s sandwiched between two popular travel periods, Thanksgiving and Christmas. A lot of people will do their traveling then, but the airlines still have to fill up their planes during this down time so they try to lure passengers with discounted fares.

3. Got any examples?

These are some of the cheapest round-trip fares found on during three travel periods for flights between Boston and Los Angeles:

  • Late November (Thanksgiving): $780
  • Late December (Christmas): $470
  • Early December (deal zone): $260

Prices were found Nov. 11 and may have changed but they give a good idea of fare trends.

4. What about international travel?

These prices are round-trip fares between Chicago and Amsterdam:

  • Early December: $451
  • Late December: $1,570

And here are fares between New York and London:

  • Early December: $453
  • Late December: $850

But not all the late December deals were much more expensive; one example of this is New York to Milan for $440.

5. Why was that last deal so cheap?

Because the return date was in January, at the start of the next deal zone which is so good, it deserves a column all its own. Stayed tuned to this space.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.