Once mostly focused on electronics bargains, sales on Black Friday now thoroughly cover the rest of the things you spend money on. Picture: Pixabay

Once mostly focused on electronics bargains, sales on Black Friday now thoroughly cover the rest of the things you spend money on, including travel. Deals abound on hotel rooms, cruises, rental cars, luggage, hot-air balloon rides, plane tickets - you name it.

"It is just as important for airlines to be active and engaged as it is for retailers and online retailers," says Hayley Berg, economist at Hopper.

But are these sales any good, or are they just marketing schemes to get customers to think they're benefiting by shopping on these specific dates?

We spoke with travel experts about what to know before you pull out your wallet.

Start your shopping in the morning

Should you decide to get into the Black Friday game, Berg recommends getting a jump on your weekend shopping early.

"We typically recommend if you can look in the morning, start then," Berg says. "Sometimes airlines have a limited number of fares and better prices available, then the promotion closes, which is pretty common."

However, if you snooze, you might not lose. New fares become available throughout the day from different carriers, so it's best to keep tabs continuously. That advice goes for day of the week, too. An airline may release a sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or run a promotion for longer than the weekend.

Set your price alerts in advance

To know for sure that you're getting a great deal, the best move is to know what the baseline fares are, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Because ticket prices can change up to 130 times before departure, travellers get wildly different cost estimates depending on the minute they're doing their travel research.

A way of navigating this tricky landscape is to set up an online price alert for flights to better prepare for the Black Friday shopping weekend.

With an alert, you'll be able to see price fluctuation yourself and know whether the advertised deals are worth your money.

Remember, it's not your only time of year to score a deal

While everyone agrees that sales will take place, not everyone agrees that they'll live up to the hype.

Airlines don't have to push particularly great deals over the Black Friday weekend (or any time of the year) because it's not worth their time or effort. To execute a deal advertising campaign, an airline has to spend money on the planning and execution and expect a certain amount of volume from the customer side.

International routes may be a traveller's best bet

International airlines can prove to be exceptions.

"A few airlines actually have good deals that are kind of the exceptions to the rule. One of them traditionally has been Air New Zealand, which frequently runs good sales," says Scott's Cheap Flights founder Scott Keyes. "Oftentimes on Cyber Monday, they'll announce [the sale] in the morning, and then it'll expire at midnight."

Air New Zealand and other international airlines may use Black Friday weekend as an opportunity to break into new markets.

The Washington Post