Summer is just around the corner and most of us are planning for vacations. Whether the destination is an exotic Caribbean beach, the always popular Las Vegas or a visit to a relative in Wisconsin, a common concern is to know exactly when to book the airfare and when to actually travel in order to profit from the best possible price.
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How soon should you buy?
Per CheapAir.com, you shouldn’t buy a ticket in the 2-week period prior to a flight. There won’t be any last-second price deal due to airlines desperately trying to fill empty seats, Instead, according to studies, in 2013, the best time to buy a domestic airline ticket was 54 days in advance with a flexible period extending from 29 days to 104 days.
However, that is a simple answer drawn from the analysis of aggregated data. Observing statistical averages is useful to show trends and cannot be used to pinpoint the best time to book a specific flight to a precise location.
Apparently, the surest option remains the use of tools such as popular search engines (Google Flight Search, Yahoo Travel or Bing Travel) to start tracking as early as possible interesting flights, and when the time seems best, use an application like Airfare Watchdog (be sure to subscribe to their fare alerts for verified lists of low fares) which specializes in sniffing deals directly from airline websites.
When to book early?
There are, 3 cases when the 54-day guideline doesn’t apply and when it is better not to wait too long hoping for discounts that most likely will never come. You should never wait to book popular destinations, dates during a holiday, smaller airports with limited service, and international flights. For instance, the best time for Europe seems to be 151 days ahead, 89 for Mexico and 101 for the Caribbean.
Which day should you buy?
The “travel detective” Peter Greenberg, hints that the best low fares are for grabs on Wednesdays at 1 a.m., but only for those willing to have a warm conversation with a real-life ticket agent.
Of course, Tuesdays remains the best day to fly for less. If possible, aim for the first flight of the day, and this is because fewer people travel on Tuesdays, even fewer want to do so at 3 or 4 am, and less demand implies better deals.