Air tickets prices depend on supply and demand similar to other businesses. There are certain times of year that are slower than travel than others, and this is where you can get major savings on air tickets.
Slow seasons are deemed as such because travel trends have shown that not very many people enjoy traveling during these time periods. A couple of examples of slow times include the first two weeks of December, which is between the two big holiday travel rushes, most of the month of January after New Year's, and spring and fall outside of spring break. Other slow season times depend on your destination - for example, nobody wants to visit a tropical island in its winter or rainy season, and travel time is more popular for a destination if there is a festival of some sort going on.
Here's an example of the savings you can get by traveling during the slow season: searching for a trip from San Francisco to New York during the third week of January cost $249 round-trip. That same trip during the Christmas holiday? $440 dollars or more. That's almost a 50% savings, just by postponing your trip a few weeks!
There are many other benefits to traveling during off-peak times. Typically, hotels and activities will offer similar discounts. You can get an ocean view resort room or city tour for half the price during the off-season. Also, you do not have to deal with as many people. If you are visiting the Great Wall of China during the Chinese New Year, you will be bombarded with people. It could be a very unpleasant experience. However, if you go the week or two before Chinese New Year, you could be one of the only people on the wall! This applies to most of the popular tourist destinations. Less people means less stress, and more time to relax!
Some people do not have a choice in when they travel. They are bound by business or school vacation days, or have other obligations to attend too. However, if your schedule is flexible - even just within a couple of weeks - it is worth checking into whether or not you can fly during a slow travel period. You will get less expesive hotel rooms, more afordable entertainment events, as well as cheap air tickets, all while dealing with less people. This means more time and money for you to enjoy your vacation!