Most of us love scoring a deal on airfare (just ask this guy). But there are plenty of conflicting theories on how and when to book your flight to achieve maximum savings.
Is there really a best time to book flights? Here’s what the experts had to say.
The average ticket prices for economy and premium seats tend to rise as the departure date gets closer, said Alexis Tiacoh, spokeswoman for Expedia. Waiting to book at the last minute can be an expensive gamble. But booking three weeks ahead is the “sweet spot” for fare savings. (Here's how to get your travel budget ready.)
“Travelers should book their flights at least three weeks out, on a weekend,” she said. “Many people save up to 20%, and some can save as much as 36%.”
When booking international flights, try and book six weeks in advance to score maximum savings, said Kelly Soderlund, travel trends expert for Hipmunk.
Based on Expedia’s research, the most expensive tickets tend to be purchased on Thursdays and Fridays, said Tiacoh. But global trends show most low-cost economy and premium flights depart on a Thursday or Friday.
“Travelers can save around 10% on airfares simply by choosing flights that take off on Thursday or Friday,” she said.
Avoid flying on a Monday as it’s a heavily-trafficked business travel day, said Soderlund. Tuesday or Thursday travel is a better bet. If you want to fly on a weekend, opt for a Saturday.
“Cost-conscious travelers should avoid starting their journey on a Sunday, as those trips generally have the highest average ticket price,” said Tiacoh.
Another tactic for scoring bargain flights is knowing when to go, said Soderlund. The best time? Shoulder season, or the travel period between peak and off-peak times, typically right after summer.
“We’re coming up on shoulder season which is one of, if not the best time to travel,” she said. “It’s the second cheapest time of the year to fly after January. There are fewer crowds, but the weather is still warm in most places.”
Connected travelers have the best odds at nabbing an airfare deal by staying in the loop with their go-to airlines.
“Bargain hunting flyers should connect with their favorite airlines via their social media accounts, since promos are often launched or best promoted through platforms like Twitter or Instagram,” said Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. “Signing up for alerts from airlines is an effective way of becoming aware of last-minute sales, too.”
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