When it comes to booking airfare, everyone is looking to get the best deal possible. It seems like everyone has a method to find the cheapest airfare. While some use search engines, others only swear by their favorite online travel agency. Still others scour internet forums to find hidden fares, or questionable “hidden city” travel. Is there a best time to book a flight?
Although travel looks a lot different today than ever before, there are still rules about finding the best airfare prices. No matter where you go, here’s where you can find the best time to book a flight.
How Airfares are Determined
Before we dive into the best time to book a flight, it’s important to consider how airlines decide the price of an airline ticket. Complex algorithms measuring consumer demand, operational costs, and other factors all affect how much you pay for your airline ticket.
A flight price can change every 4.5 days and the airfare price can fluctuate around $33 on average in either direction.
These changes can reflect a number of situations inside the airline, including supply, demand, fuel charges, and other factors. Although passengers don’t have control over the pricing, understanding it can help travelers find the best prices for their flights.
What is the Best Day to Book a Flight?
No matter who you ask, everyone has a theory on the best day to book a flight. Some swear by Tuesdays or Wednesdays, while others have their own theories and secrets. Is there are best single day to book a flight? It all depends on which study you read.
The best time to book airfare is on Tuesdays at around 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Air carriers publish their sales on Tuesday morning, which creates a chain reaction among the competition. As a result, budget flyers can often find good deals as everyone adjusts their prices.
Other reports suggest that Saturdays may be the better day of the week to book both domestic and international tickets. Saturdays had an average price of $298.78. Tuesdays were the second cheapest day with an average price of $299.52
No matter your strategy, the data is unilaterally clear. Both Tuesdays and Saturdays are considered to be the best days to book a flight.
How Far Out Should I Book my Flight?
It’s one thing to figure out which days are the best to book flights. It’s something completely different to figure out when someone should book a flight. As you plan your future flights, how far out should you start looking for your next getaway?
Once again, it’s all about what study you read. FareCompare suggests flyers start shopping for their flights between three months and 30 days before their planned departure date. SkyScanner suggests travelers need to start looking three months in advance, with September as the cheapest month for airfare prices.
Everyone agrees that if you plan on traveling during the busiest times of the year, including the summer months and the holiday season, it’s important to plan early and search for airfare often. If you’re looking for fare deals, SkyScanner suggests you should look in August and September 2020, as airlines prices their airfare cheapest during those months. Comparatively, FareCompare suggests purchasing tickets at least two months ahead of your next trips.
What are the Best Days to Fly?
Once you have put together a strategy to find the best flights, is there anything else you can do to find the cheapest airfares? If you want to pay the lowest possible price, look for the least popular flights.
Airlines make the most money on business travelers, who schedule their flights to be at a certain place at a certain time. These flyers usually pick flights during the daytime, when it’s most convenient to travel. As a result, these flights often come with a higher price tag.
To get the lowest possible price, look for flights at unpopular times. Early morning flights, late-night flights and overnight flights are often cheaper than those during the day.
In addition, flights on certain days are often under booked, meaning there may be some deals to be had. To find the best possible flight prices, be flexible in the days to fly. Flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are often cheaper than flights at the beginning and end of the work week.
Domestic vs. International: When Should I Book My Flight?
Depending on where you are going, the rules for booking flights may change. While the research suggests you should start looking for domestic flights between three months and 30 days before your flight, the research time for international travel may take longer.
FareCompare suggests that you should start looking for flights to Europe at least five months in advance. The window for the best fares occurs from five months away, up to 1.5 months before your planned departure date. Meanwhile, SkyScanner says you should book international flights at least two weeks before departure to find the best deals, and the cheapest month to fly outside the U.S. is March.
Where Can I Find the Best Flight Deals?
If you’re constantly looking for the best deals to fly around the world, you aren’t alone. There are several resources available to find the best airline prices for your next trip. Start your search with these websites:
- FlyerTalk.com: Considered the number one website for frequent flyers around the world, members of this bulletin board are constantly looking for the best airfares available.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: Get an e-mail alert when airfares drop for international destinations. Premium subscribers also get access to exclusive deals and holiday flights.
Finding the cheapest flights is just a matter of research, timing, and maximizing your luck. By knowing when to shop and when to book, you can improve your odds of finding the best flights.