The Real Reason You Can Get Crazy Cheap Flights on September 11th

Do Travelers Still Avoid Flying on September 11th?

In the years immediately following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many air travelers were extremely hesitant to fly on the anniversary date of the attacks. But over time, has this reluctance to fly on 9/11 persisted?

In 2002 and 2003, the two years after the attacks, airlines reported significantly reduced bookings and passenger loads for flights on September 11th specifically. To encourage wary travelers, some carriers dramatically slashed their flight schedules for that date and even offered free tickets to those willing to fly. On the anniversary day itself, airports across the country saw air traffic plunge by as much as 50% compared to normal levels.

However, as the years passed after 9/11, this marked hesitance to fly on the anniversary date steadily declined among American air travelers. Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows the typical seasonal dip in air travel demand during the month of September was much more pronounced in 2002 and 2003, but had returned to normal pre-9/11 levels by 2005.

There is some evidence indicating ticket prices are slightly lower for September 11th flights, likely due to marginally reduced passenger demand on the anniversary date. The travel website Expedia reports this trend of cheaper 9/11 airfares lasted until approximately 2009 or 2010 before disappearing altogether. This year in particular, Expedia says September 11th is already slated to be the most popular and busy air travel day of the entire month.

Meanwhile, an analysis conducted by the airfare comparison website FareCompare found no tangible difference in ticket prices between flights this coming Sunday on 9/11 and those departing the weekends right before and after. So last-minute deals sparked specifically by 9/11 fears seem very unlikely at this point.

The extreme hesitance to fly on the anniversary of 9/11 in the immediate years after the attacks has widely faded over the last decade. September 11th no longer deters or disrupts air travel patterns across the country like it did in those early years. The emotional trauma of the date has diminished enough that most Americans once again feel comfortable flying on 9/11.