If you are not sure of your travel dates, you will want to purchase a refundable plane ticket. However, if you know the exact dates and destination of your trip, you can save money by waiting to buy a round-trip airline ticket until the last minute. You should also consider these other factors when deciding on when to purchase your airline tickets.
When to Purchase Airline Tickets
Some people believe that it is best to purchase airline tickets 6 weeks before the departure date. This may be true for holiday flights, international flights and last minute flights. It will all depend on what kind of deals the airlines are offering at that time. The best time to purchase an airline ticket is when the fares are low.
Other Things to Consider When Buying a Plane Ticket
Dear future traveler,
I know you are anxious about your trip. You want to make sure you have the best deal for your trip. I am writing this because I want to help you understand why waiting can benefit you in the long run.
First of all, waiting until the last minute will help you save money. By purchasing a round-trip ticket you could possibly save hundreds of dollars from the initial price. The airlines believe that if they sell a round-trip ticket they will gain twice as much money because they have a larger customer base. They know that people who purchase round-trip tickets are more reliable than those who purchase one-way tickets, so they give a discount to people who purchase round-trip tickets in order to get their money back.
Secondly, purchasing a round-trip ticket is more efficient for the airlines, because it makes it easier for them to manage their business. They do not have to worry about looking for extra customers to fill their planes if someone cancels their return flight. The airlines feel more confident when they sell round-trip tickets because they do not have to worry as much about losing profit. Therefore, purchasing a round-trip ticket means saving time and making your life easier by using less effort on planning and organizing your trip
You should wait to purchase your round-trip ticket until the day before you leave. That’s right. Though it may sound crazy, you’ll be paying a much higher fare if you buy your ticket too early.
Why? It’s quite simple; the government sets limits on how high an airline can set their fares. For example, If I am flying from New York to Los Angeles and my price is $500, then yours can only be $550. The problem comes when I find out that someone bought a ticket for $450, so I have to drop my price to $425 as well. This keeps happening and eventually we’re all pricing below what the government allows us to charge!
This is just an example of course, but there are real studies proving that prices will keep dropping until about one day before the flight, which is when the airlines finally realize that they’ve been pricing their seats too low and start raising their prices again.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been told that it’s cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket than two one-way tickets. It’s common knowledge that the airlines charge more for a round trip with a Saturday night stay. They think you might stay an extra day and spend money on hotels, rental cars and other travel expenses.
But what if the round trip costs less even if you don’t stay over the weekend? For example, what if you want to fly from Atlanta to San Francisco on United Airlines and then return on American Airlines? Will the airlines let you do that without paying more?
Well, sometimes it will cost less for you to buy two separate tickets instead of one round trip ticket.
How Much Less? Well, I have seen savings of 50% or more over buying a round trip ticket!
The general rule for buying airline tickets is to purchase them as soon as possible. By buying the ticket early, you guarantee yourself a seat and avoid the ever-increasing prices that come with procrastination.
Recently, however, I have been purchasing my round-trip tickets close to the departure date, and I have been seeing an average savings of $200. This savings can be used to extend your stay by a few days, or put towards another trip later in the year.
This may seem counter intuitive, but there are a few reasons why it works:
No one knows what will happen in the future. In other words, anything can happen between now and your return date that could affect the price of your flight: strikes, weather delays, increased fuel costs, etc. These events are out of our control and can result in a loss on our investment if we are unable to take our planned trip.
The airlines want to fill seats close to departure. Airlines would rather sell their seats at discounted rates than fly half empty planes. If you keep checking closer to your departure date and see that seats are still available for purchase, you probably won’t be able to find a better rate anywhere else.
The expert flyers at FlyerTalk.com have found that you can save money by buying a round-trip ticket even if you don’t intend to fly round-trip.
You have to be willing to throw out the return portion, though. In many cases, one-way tickets are more expensive than half of a round trip.
So how do you find out which airlines offer this arrangement? The best way is to check the airlines’ own Web sites. If you’re flexible about when and where you travel, type in some sample dates and see what happens. On the other hand, if your travel plans are fixed, call the airline and ask about purchasing a round-trip ticket and then throwing away the return portion.
If you’re flying on an airline that charges for checked bags, it pays to ask whether they will charge you each way or just once on flights where you’re not using both legs of a round trip.
To travel on the cheap, you must become a master of the online ticket search. Searching at the last minute or within a few weeks of your departure date will almost always yield the lowest fares. And to make sure you’re getting the best price, you should be checking multiple sites.
But there’s one exception to this rule: round-trip tickets. In most cases, buying a round-trip ticket is cheaper than buying two one-way tickets.
This seems like it shouldn’t be true. The logic behind it is that airlines are more willing to lower a return fare than they are to lower an individual leg of the journey. For example, if a flight from Cleveland to Los Angeles is full, an airline might reduce the cost and offer some half-price seats to entice passengers who want to buy a round-trip ticket that includes Cleveland-Los Angeles and Los Angeles-Cleveland legs.
The other reason is that it’s easier for airlines to sell combinations of flights when they offer them as a package, meaning they can offer them at a discount.
In other words, airlines want you to buy an entire itinerary from them and not just one leg so they encourage you with lower prices.