When exactly is the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets?
Most people know that they should purchase plane tickets well in advance if they want to save money on seats. But preparing too far in advance can actually lead to a more expensive flight.
So when exactly is the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets?
A study done by CheapAir.com shows that the best time to buy a domestic plane ticket is, on average, 54 days before the scheduled flight. Cheap Air studied 921 million air fares, and found that the lowest fare for a given trip changed on average 71 times. That’s about once every 4½ days! And with each change the lowest price went up or down by an average of $33.
The study also found that “first dibs” tickets, those sold six to eleven months in advance, tend to be higher priced, as flights have just opened up and airlines are less desperate to sell those seats. Even “peace of mind” tickets, those that’re still for sale three and a half to six months before the flight, can still be fairly pricey, even though they’re typically more affordable fares than first dibs.
Three weeks to three and a half months is what’s referred to as the “prime booking window.” Any less than that, and you’ll be “pushing your luck” (two to three weeks) or risk a “Hail Mary”, booking zero to two weeks in advance.
For those of us who buy our tickets online (which would be most of us), CheapAir.com also examined whether the day of the week you actually click “purchase” makes a difference. The study found that there is, on average less than a 0.6% (less than $2) difference between purchase days of week. However, the day of the actual flight does make a difference. Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly, and Sunday is the most expensive, with an average difference of $73.