If you need to book a flight, and you’re paying for it out of your own pocket, whether it’s is for vacation or work you’ll of course want to save as much money as possible. That means booking in advance, as most people who travel regularly already know, but it also means booking your tickets on the correct day of the week and time of the year too.
First a little bit about booking in advance. Many consumers believe that 2 or 3 weeks in advance is enough but, based on the analyzation of nearly 5 million trips in 2014, it was determined that 47 days ,or just under seven weeks, is the “sweet spot” for getting the best airfare.
Those numbers come from CheapAir.com, and the online airfare shopping engine determines them by tracking prices from 320 days in advance of someone booking airline tickets up until the actual day before their flight. What they found was that, in general, the prime time to buy an airline ticket is between 1 and 4 months ahead of the actual departure date.
Another fact that they found might drive some consumers a little bit mad; the lowest price of any airline ticket changes approximately 70 times. The average savings when booking on the ‘best’ day were just over $200, not including the two weeks directly before flight as airfares are much higher during those 14 days. (When those were included, the difference rose to $319.)
There’s of course no guarantee that you’ll get the best rate, as ticket prices are affected by a number of factors including the season, local events around the particular airport that you use and of course the destination of your flight.
Jeff Klee, the CEO of CheapAir.com, had some bad news for consumers who want a formula for determining the day that is best to buy an airline ticket; “As much as everyone wants an answer for an exact number so they don’t have to worry about finding the best price, it’s not that simple,” he said.
That being said, there are a number of rules to follow in order to make sure that the price you pay, while maybe not the lowest, is still pretty low. Those include never buying airline tickets 14 days or less before your actual departure date, and definitely not seven days or less, as both will get you prices that are much higher. Also, surprisingly, not buying airline tickets when they are first offered. When a ticket is first offered, it’s usually about $50 higher than what the eventual, lowest price, will be.
Finally, the actual day of the week that you fly can also bring quite a few dollars worth of savings. The two cheapest days are Tuesday and Wednesday, while Sunday and Friday are the most expensive.
Lastly, Klee recommends that you be able to “pull the trigger” quickly if you see a great deal. He warns that prices change very frequently and that, if you don’t make a decision quickly, you can find out the very next day that the excellent price you found has has flown away.