Posted in Travel

When to buy your air ticket and when to fly for less

I researched this topic online and gathered the most useful information that I could find. This is the best advise travel experts can give us on when to buy our air tickets and when to fly.

Kim Komando says airlines announce deals on Monday evenings, Rick Seaney says it happens on Tuesdays at 3 PM Eastern Standard Time; however, they both agree that by Tuesday afternoon other airlines are scrambling to match those deals. So Tuesday afternoons are the best time to hunt for reduced airfare.

Peter Greenberg at CBS News suggests waiting until 1 a.m. on Wednesday to snag the deals that didn’t get taken on Tuesday.

Texas A&M University and the Wall Street Journal claim that weekends are actually the best time to book air tickets because airlines are more likely to lower their fares on Saturday and Sunday in an attempt to sell out their inventory and allegedly we can save an average of $60 by purchasing our tickets on Sundays instead of Tuesdays.

So, what should we do? Kim says that if you see one airline offering a deal on Monday, make plans to buy your tickets on Tuesday. If there are no deals going on, buy on the weekend.

FareCompare says: When to start and finish shopping: Shop too late and you may be hit with the steep prices last-minute business travelers pay but shopping too early can also cost more. These shopping windows yield the best-priced fares.

  • Domestic tickets: The best time to buy airline tickets for U.S. travel is between three months and 30 days before departure.
  • International fares: The best time to buy international airline tickets is between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ months before departure. During peak seasons such as June, July and August or December holidays, purchase tickets two months in advance.

You should always compare air ticket costs but in addition to that I normally sign up for email or text travel alerts when the price goes down (once you already know where you want to travel).

FareCompare says that a little inconvenience can save you money if you are flexible with your travel plans. Non-stops flights are more convenient but you can often find better deals on connecting flights. Adding a stop (or two) can sometimes save as much as 50%.  

Bigger airports (particularly hubs) often have cheaper airfares. Compare prices from your hometown airport as well a larger airport and you may find a longer drive is worth it.

They also pointed out that we can also save money by shopping one ticket at a time: When booking travel for two or more people, book just one ticket to start. That’s because of a quirk in airline reservation systems that requires multiple tickets sold in a single transaction be the same price. Shopping one ticket at a time can save money.  Example: An airline has one ticket left for $100; all the others on that flight cost $200. If you shop for two tickets at a time, you’ll pay $200 for both (because of that quirk). Shop for tickets one-at-a-time in separate transactions and you’ll get that last $100 ticket.

Cheapest days to fly:  Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Expensive days: Fridays and Sundays, which are the most popular days, especially around holiday weekends. 

Cheapest times: Fly when most people don’t want to: at dawn, red-eyes (overnight flights) and flights around the dinner hour.

Kim has a few suggestions on which sites to use for booking: When you run a search for tickets on Kayak.com, you’ll see a Price Trend box in the left-hand column. It tells you whether to buy or wait and Kayak’s confidence level based on whether prices are going up or down. If you want more information about how it made its decision, you can click the box with the lowercase “i”.

Another site good site is AirfareWatchdog. It pulls deals directly from airline websites that sometimes don’t show up in regular searches.

Even after your buy, make sure you’re getting the best deal. Yapta will watch prices so if they drop below a certain amount you can get a refund of the difference.

While saving money is nice, sometimes it’s better to spend a few more bucks for less travel hassle. Hipmunk lets you sort flights by “agony,” which factors in time of departure and layovers.

Nobody mentioned so far that traveling east or west is cheaper so let’s say you live in Washington D.C. and want to travel to Tokyo; you can do it by either traveling through California or changing somewhere in Europe, therefore I suggest you to check both directions but consider flying time and layovers! Saving $100 may not be worth it if you are flying 10 hours longer with terrible connections but if you are saving a lot, choose a flight with a long layover in a major city and get out of the connecting city while waiting (if no visa required).  You need at least an 8 hour layover (the longer the better) to enjoy the city and get back to your airport on time. Please note that you will have to go through a security check again.

2 thoughts on “When to buy your air ticket and when to fly for less

  1. While I would consider myself to be an experienced traveler I definitely learned a few things and found this article quite useful! I was not aware about the Yapta’s price-delta refund feature ensuring their customers get the best deal regardless of purchase time exceeding a given threshold! As the article states deal finding is a balancing act between affordability, travel time, travel services and overall convenience.
    I look forward to receiving more advice and taking advantage of your travel savvy and wisdom. Regards!

    Like

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