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Blackout dates are dates when travel (airline) rewards and other special discounts/promotions are not available.
These dates typically fall on or around major holidays or other peak travel seasons.

Awards are given by airlines to attract potential fliers away from other carriers and keep them loyal by promising lower fare on future flights. Awards are tailored to create higher incentive to travel on days other than the Blackout dates. On Blackout dates, more travelers fly by necessity. Hence, a carrier can charge a higher price and yet fill its capacity as the competition is also being fully booked on the Blackout dates. A carrier can maximize profits by providing incentives to loyal but flexible travelers to plan and move their travel dates to lower traffic days, there by allowing other fliers at premium priced tickets on the Blackout dates. The other days are often graded so that the awards afford more on less preferred days.
Blackout day,
Your favorite airline is having a sale. You hurry to snag some tickets only to discover every date you want to fly is excluded from the promotion.

Alas, this is business as usual. Airlines know the dates or days of the week you'll happily fly with no extra incentive. And if passengers will pay more, airlines will charge more.

Some airlines don't even bother with the phrase "blackout dates," possibly because it smacks of overkill when five days out of a week are blacked out (many sales are good for Tuesday and Wednesday flights only). Be flexible enough to fly on the sale days, or at least one of those days and you'll reap some savings.
Other airlines keep you guessing. The fine print on Frontier's recent Black Friday sale stated, "Seats are limited at these fares and certain flights and/or days of travel may be unavailable especially during busy travel periods." Translation: Expect lots of blackout dates, plus blacked-out flight times, meaning it will be harder to get a seat during the most popular times to fly. When you see such disclaimers, it's imperative that you shop an airfare comparison site. You may find better deals elsewhere, particularly on the blackout dates.
by john decruze November 17, 2013
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