We’ve all been there before: that airline ticket you didn’t book until the very last minute or discovering cheaper airfare one day after you made your purchase.
Buying airline tickets, like so many other things relating to travel, is somewhat tricky and can perhaps be compared to dating. You’ll have to work your way through a few ridiculously unmatched results until you come across the one that really stands out and leaves you excited, so to speak.
Is there really a good time to buy airline tickets or do we just wing it and hope for the best? Most of us base our searches and inquiries on what we need – and that is how it should be, but shopping for airfare that works within your budget and preferences.
Booking flights is also something that eventually becomes habitual in its process, and we forget that there are many factors (oil prices, airline competition, weather, and socio-political statuses) that work in (or against) your favor.
With the world at our fingertips in this digital age, there are still many theories and discussions about when the best time is to shop for airline tickets. Let’s have a look at some pointers that will help you plan your next voyage.
Rather Not, Thank You!
Some flights are booked out of urgency and can definitely be overlooked when an emergency trip falls on a public holiday, for instance. But, other than that, there is no excuse to not be aware of your destination’s festivals that draws large crowds. Peak seasons like Mardi Gras or even fashion week will have a huge impact on your search results.
You’ll also find that international airfare booked on a Sunday will be exponentially higher than that of mid-week bookings. In some cases, you can expect to pay up to 10% less.
On average, these are the best times to book:
- Airline tickets for domestic trips should be purchased 2-3 weeks in advance.
- International flights should be booked between 3-6 months in advance.
Hold On…Don’t Book Too Far In Advance!
Last-minute bookings are sure to guarantee the highest in rates and as mentioned before, sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. But, if you are in the position to do things differently, then do it!
Booking your flight up to 6 months in advance can save you up to 14% on your ticket purchase, but it also means that you cannot savor any promotions, deals or flash sales that appear 4 months after your booking took place.
Ideally, if you want to keep an eye open for these hot deals, keep a 6-week window period in mind and book the first deal that you come across. Waiting to see if the airline drops another deal on your digital doorstep is just silly. This is not Russian roulette, it’s your journey and you ought to book with care.
If you’re flying back from the USA, flying on Thanksgiving Day will land you the cheapest ticket, while flights on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve get you the cheapest (and possibly best) seat on the plane!
For those who take superstition with a pinch of salt, you’ll find surprisingly good deals for flights on Friday the 13th.
Tricks Of The Trade
Save even more by knowing the cheapest days to fly. If you can’t book cheap days for your entire flight, do it for one leg of the trip and you’ll still see some savings.
- Cheap Days:
Usually, Tuesdays, Wednesdays are the most affordable. In terms of international travel, weekdays offer lower rates than that on weekends.
- Expensive Days:
Fridays and Sundays usually cost more, especially in the U.S.
- Cheapest Times of Day:
Fly when most people don’t want to, such as dawn, overnight or flights during the lunch or dinner hour.
Additionally, most discounted fares can be found between Sunday and Monday night, with many people taking advantage of these sales on Tuesday. However, you are very likely to find more discounts right after midnight, making Wednesday 01:00 AM the golden hour to pounce on those tickets.
On your marks! Get set! Go!
There is one golden rule that stands out from all the others. When you shop for airline tickets, compare airfares. As humans, it is totally normal to form habits and stick to one or two airlines when booking tickets.
We can’t ever predict the best deals since no airline always has the cheapest airfare on their most popular routes. This is a solid fact and if you don’t compare, you might end up paying way too much, and why pay a penny more than you should?
To help with all of this, set airfare alerts and stay up to date with special deals and flash sales. Signing up for an alert only takes a second and the deals come to directly to you via email. Then, if you get a fare you like, act fast, because the best deals don’t last.
Connect The Dots
One last thing to keep in mind is that you will find that non-stop flights are more convenient, but you can sometimes find better deals on connecting flights. This is not a given, but in many cases, you will come across rates that accommodate have more stopovers. This rule can be considered when making ticket price comparisons.
Do not confuse the day of your purchase with the departure of your flight.:
- It costs less to book your flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as there are usually more chances of lowered prices and deals.
- The day that your flight departs matters way more, in fact: Flying out towards the end of the week (on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays) is likely to be the cheapest.
But whatever, you do, don’t fly out on a Sunday – unless of course, you have no other choice.
More Hot Tips:
- Spring requires booking the furthest in advance, but December and June see the highest average ticket prices.
- Using a VPN to change your geolocation could help you find better deals.
- The bottom line: Do not wait until the last minute hoping to catch plummeting prices. Book your flights ahead of time.
The Final Say
Hopefully, these hacks will help you plan your next trip with ease. Buying airline tickets shouldn’t feel like a task – especially when you are planning an awesome getaway.
Whether you are flying for business or pleasure, you always need to keep your eyes peeled on deals and it’s just so much more rewarding when you have some knowledge on what to do and what not to do.