The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets: How to get the best deals on airline tickets.
If you’re trying to save money on air travel, you may have heard that booking your plane ticket at a certain time will ensure you get the best possible deal. But is there really a best time to buy airline tickets?
The answer is not so simple. The best time to buy airline tickets depends on your destination and when you want to go. Generally, it’s best to book three weeks before you leave, but there are other factors to keep in mind.
When is the Best Time To Buy Airline Tickets?
There are plenty of online reports citing the “best” day of the week or time of day for buying your plane ticket. Some reports say Tuesday after 3 p.m., others Thursday at 1 a.m., and still others that it doesn’t matter when you book at all. These reports usually cite a study by CheapAir.com, which analyzed over three million trips and found that booking 46 days in advance was ideal for domestic flights with an average savings of $36 per ticket compared to the most expensive day to buy which was 14 days or less before departure.
The best time to buy an airline ticket is usually 7 weeks before your trip. Domestic travel, in particular, can be very affordable during this period.
The second best time to buy an airline ticket is 3 months before your trip. And the third best time is 6 months before your trip. (These are the periods when airlines have not yet filled all their seats.)
This means you should get started on your holiday shopping early. If you wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might miss out on the best deals.
It is the age-old question that has baffled travelers for years: When is the best time to buy an airline ticket?
And, even more complex: What day of the week should you book it? Should you book it months in advance or only a few days ahead? Is there a peak time when air travel is most expensive? Does it matter what month you fly? How about what day of the week you depart and return?
Or, as one reader put it, “Is there a secret rule that airlines use to determine prices?”
One of the most common questions I get asked is “when is the best time to buy airline tickets?” The answer often surprises people: there is no single best day to buy airline tickets, but there are some general guidelines.
Airline competition and market forces set ticket prices. Airlines constantly monitor how much people are willing to pay for tickets and they adjust their fares according to demand. In general, they aim to sell just enough tickets at a certain price so that the plane will be full when it takes off.
As you might expect, airlines usually charge more for tickets on popular routes and on busy travel dates such as holidays. But there’s more to it than that. Airline pricing decisions are an intricate art based on highly guarded secrets (with all due respect to Ben Bernanke). And sometimes there are special deals or other factors that make a flight a particularly good value at a certain time.
What follows are some basic tips that may help you find cheaper airfares if you know when and where to look.
When to Buy Airline Tickets
When you buy an airline ticket, you are betting that the price today is less than the price will be tomorrow. And the airlines are betting that it’s more.
Booking too early: If you book too early, you risk paying more than necessary. But how early is too early?
The general guideline for domestic flights is between three weeks and four months in advance. This is when airlines start to cut prices due to a lack of demand and having to compete with other airlines for passengers. The closer you get to your departure date, the higher the prices may initially be (but not always).
Booking too late: Booking last-minute can be risky business because the airlines know that you need to travel and they know that you don’t have many options if you wait until the last minute. You should always buy your ticket at least two weeks before departure, and up to two months in advance. During this time, airlines are competing with each other for passengers and they offer great deals on flights because they don’t want empty seats!
How to Find Cheap Flights
To save money when booking flights, try using any of these great tools:
If you want to save money on airline tickets, you’re going to have to do your homework. There’s no magic formula for finding the best flight deals, but there are some tried-and-true methods that will help you locate the best airfare and avoid paying an arm and a leg for that long awaited vacation.
Here are our top tips for finding cheap flights:
Buy in bulk. The more seats you book at once, the cheaper they’ll be.
Fly indirect. Direct flights are great, but they cost more. Consider adding a stopover to your journey to get a cheaper rate (on multi-stop flights, airlines often charge less per leg).
Book midweek departures. Prices for flights tend to rise over the weekend, so book your departure for Tuesday or Wednesday instead.
Be flexible with travel dates and times. Consider using Skyscanner’s ‘whole month’ search tool if you’re not set on specific dates. It’s also worth searching for flights when it’s late at night in your departure city – prices tend to drop after midnight as airline staff scramble to meet sales targets or fill empty seats!
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