Frugal Flying—Working the Airline Ticket System
When airfares change daily, how do you know when to get the best deal? What about international travel? Never fear. We understand your frustration; after all, we’ve been there, too! We have compiled clever tips on the best time to buy your ticket, so you can pay rent this month and take a trip. Enjoy—and work the system!
54 Days is the Magic Number
Studies from 2013 show that the best time to buy domestic airfare is 54 days in advance of departure, which is just under eight weeks beforehand. This debunks previous theories that suggested purchasing six weeks in advance. However, can things really be this simple? Of course not. Destination and time of travel affect how early you should purchase as well. So if you’re traveling home for the holidays, plan on booking your tickets earlier rather than later as high traffic days fill quickly, causing prices to increase. If you’re heading to a popular destination—like Florida or Disneyland—plan on looking earlier. Also, don’t buy late. Just don’t do it. Buy at least two weeks in advance. Prices increase significantly within this window.
International Travel is its Own Thing
International travel plays by its own rules. The same study that gave 54 days for domestic flights suggests these numbers for booking international flights in advance.
Europe: 151 days
Asia: 129 days
The Caribbean: 101 days
Mexico: 89 days
Latin America: 80 days
With international travel, earlier is often better.
Buy on Tuesday Afternoon or Wednesday Morning
Airlines publish their deals on Mondays, so travel agents begin their weeks with the lowest prices. Check prices Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning to ensure you can snag these deals as well. Avoid buying on weekends, which are high traffic times to buy, so airlines increase their prices accordingly.
Be Flexible Where and When You Fly
If your primary goal is to save money, being flexible on departure and arrival time could potentially save you a lot. Unfortunately, this generally means you’re either flying in the middle of the night or at 4:00 am. If you’re fly
ing to or from a place near multiple airports, consider searching fares at all the surrounding airports. You may be surprised at price discrepancies.
At the end of the day, each trip is so unique that it’s hard to give a prescriptive formula of what’s best for
each airfare. But even so, the best advice is to know your destination and timeframe and start looking early. Get a feel for the price range of your prospective tickets and buy accordingly. Good luck!