When you think about the flights, vacation rentals, and taking time off work, vacation can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve all heard the stories about how someone got an amazing deal. Guess what? That person can be you! Here’s everything you need to know about the best time to buy airline tickets to get the best deal.
What is the best day to buy tickets?
Tuesday and Thursday are popular answers to this question, but according to a study by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation, the best day to buy airline tickets is actually Sunday. Especially if you’re booking more than 21 days in advance, weekends are generally good, but definitely not Friday. On Fridays, there’s generally an uptick in sales due to business travel bookings.
What if I’m going to Europe?
According to CheapAir.com’s Annual Airfare Study, based on 921 million airfares, you should book your Europe tickets 99 days ahead of time. About three months in advance is also the best time to look for a vacation rental.
What if I’m flying domestically?
The old tale still holds true. Tuesdays and Wednesdays generally have better fares for domestic flights. This is because airlines often release weekly sales on Tuesday, and by the afternoon, competing airlines have matched those low prices. That means travelers will have the best deals to choose from. The optimal date to book your ticket is 47 days before. The prime booking window is between 27 and 114 days in advance.
Does the season matter?
It sure does! If you’re planning to travel in the winter, the best time to buy is 54 days in advance. For spring, try 75 days in advance; summer, 76; and fall, 47.
What about summer and holiday travel?
When it comes to traveling during the busy season or around the holidays, looking at your destination can be the most important factor. For example, flights to warmer weather during Spring Break will probably fill up fast. That means you’re better off booking sooner rather than later. Hawaii is one of the best examples of booking your flight early since it’s such a popular travel destination year-round. Any travel during peak season or popular destination will likely be booked fast, so the airlines don’t need to lower their prices in order to fill all the seats. Any deal you see early on will likely be the best deal you’ll find.
What about last minute deals?
Sure, you can sometimes find fantastic last minute sales, but those are very rare. According to CheapAir.com’s study, prices begin to rise steadily once inside the 47-day mark and skyrocket two weeks out. So, if you’re going somewhere, at least try to buy 14 days in advance, but 21 is even better.
Is it possible to book too early?
You bet! The second worst thing you can do, after buying your ticket too late, is buying your ticket too early. Typically, prices start high when the flights first open for sale, and then, various sales happen while approaching the flight date. On average, domestic flights open for sale about $50 higher than their ultimate lowest price.
Prices are always changing!
Remember that these are just guidelines and there’s no sure fire way to know when is the best time to buy. Ticket prices change, on average, every 4.5 days! However, the difference in price can mean hundreds of dollars, so set up some price alerts and definitely check early and often. Remember to start checking especially early for summer and holiday travel, and one to four months ahead of time for other travel dates. If you check often enough, you’ll start to see the flares fluctuate up and down, and you’ll be able to tell if it’s one of the lower prices you’ve seen.
Look for a good deal, not the best deal
Chance are pretty slim to book the absolute rock bottom price. If you see a good deal, go for it, because prices are more likely to go up than down. The price difference probably won’t be much more than a few dollars anyway.
Always compare airfare. We all have our “favorite” airlines that we tend to gravitate towards, but no airline always has the lowers price. Definitely, compared to avoid paying more than you have to. Also, try to fly the cheapest days. In the United States, those are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and for international travel, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends. Fridays and Sundays usually always cost more. A good rule of thumb is to travel when other people don’t. That also means flying at cheaper times of day like dawn, red-eyes, and flights during lunch or dinner.
Also, check the price difference between nonstop and connecting flights. Sure, nonstops are more convenient, but the money you can save might make the extra travel time worth it. One last neat trick is to book group or family tickets one at a time. This one won’t work every time, but you can still save money this way. All tickets sold in a single transaction must be the same price. That means if an airline has one ticket left for $50 and the rest for $100, two tickets will cost you $100. If you buy them on at a time instead, you’ll only pay $150 total.
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