Want the best price for your flight? Of course you do! When it comes to booking flights online, it’s all about timing: you need to know when to book if you want to get unbeatable airfares. Here are five tips to help you navigate the complex world of online flight reservations:
Book Early …
but Not Too Early
Book Your Flight on a Tuesday
Book in the Late Afternoon
Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday
You’ve likely heard that it’s best to book your flight early, but exactly how far in advance of your trip should you make your reservation? According to CheapAir, the answer is 47 days.
That being said, that number is just a guideline. In general, airfares reach their lowest prices approximately 47 days out, but that’s not necessarily true for every single flight. Therefore, CheapAir advises travelers to book between 27 and 114 days ahead of time. The company calls this time frame the “prime booking window.”
Whatever you do, try to avoid buying tickets within 14 days of your flight: tickets purchased within two weeks or less in advance are, on average, $111 more expensive than tickets purchased in the prime booking window.
Planning a trip for next year? Start researching, but don’t make any flight reservations – yet. It is always better to book earlier rather than later, but tickets purchased more than 114 days in advance tend to be more expensive. This is because airlines release tickets at relatively high prices, and they do not begin to offer discounts until the date of the flight draws nearer.
According to research conducted by Expedia, Tuesdays are the best days to purchase airline tickets. The difference in price between Tuesday and other days of the week isn’t dramatic – only about 5 percent – but for those who travel often, these savings can add up.
Specifically, you want to book your flight at about 3 p.m. EST. According to FareCompare, airlines tend to introduce reduced rates late on Mondays. This triggers a chain reaction, and other airlines begin to lower their prices as well, in order to compete. By Tuesday at 3 p.m., all the airlines that will lower their prices have generally done so, giving you the widest variety of deals to explore.
We’ve covered the best times to book your flight, but when is the most economical time to actually fly? FareCompare finds that, in general, the cheapest days to fly in the U.S. are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Fridays and Sundays are the most popular dates to fly, and therefore, the most expensive.
Based on these tips, we can draw a pretty clear conclusion. If you want to find the best deals on airfare, you should book your flight on a Tuesday at 3 p.m., about a month and a half in advance. If you can schedule your trip accordingly, you’ll save even more by flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. So book with confidence and enjoy knowing you got a great deal!