Best To Buy Airline Tickets !FULL!
The Tuesday tip we've all heard is a convenient but outdated myth that ignores the fact that airfare pricing is constantly changing. Airlines tweak their pricing by the hour to try to win over more customers and undercut their competitors. So don't assume you're getting the best deal on your flights just because you're booking on a Tuesday night.
best to buy airline tickets
Take it from us: Our team of flight deal analysts spends all day, every day searching for the cheapest fares to send to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. There are no best days to book flights: The best fares and sales don't just happen on only one day of the week. In fact, we find cheap flights, mistake fares, and unadvertised award sales every single day of the year.
Other sites and online travel agencies may do it, but airlines aren't manipulating airfare pricing based whether you've searched for a flight two or three, or 13 times. Our team searches hundreds of routes daily. If airlines were playing these tricks with cookies, we'd never be able to find a flight deal!
That's why you should start each and every search with Google Flights. Google's search tool pulls flight pricing from nearly every airline, giving you the most up-to-date pricing. You can easily set filters, browse the calendar for the cheapest dates to travel, and search the world map for the cheapest destinations from your airport. Once you've found the perfect cheap flight for you, Google Flights redirects you to book directly with the airline.
You can always compare the flights you find through Google Flights against your other favorite flight search engine like Expedia, Orbitz, Skyscanner, or others. But with all the uncertainty around travel, now more than ever we recommend booking directly with the airline rather than with online travel agencies. You'll save yourself a headache if your travel plans change down the road.
Here's the key: Avoid booking within 30-45 days before your flight. Some airlines offer decent flight prices the in the weeks leading up to departure, but these are few and far between.
In general, and especially pre-pandemic, airlines hike prices for last-minute flights. They assume only business travelers and travelers who need to be somewhere soon are that buy airline tickets last-minute. Airlines know these travelers will pay whatever it takes to get there. And trust us, you don't want to get stuck in that position a few weeks before a trip.
According to some Google Flights analysis, the lowest prices for Thanksgiving are usually found 36 to 74 days before departure, with the lowest point on average about 52 days out. For the lowest fares, those numbers mean you'll want to start searching for Thanksgiving flights around Sept. 10. The lowest fares are typically found around Oct. 2. And the best deals are all gone by about Oct. 19.
With the Christmas holiday, the range is even bigger. If you're looking to travel domestically over the Christmas holiday, the lowest flight prices can be found, on average, between 20 and 88 days ahead of time. For the lowest fares, you want to start searching for domestic Christmas flights around Sept. 28 and the best deals are all gone by about Dec. 5. Need to get home for Christmas?
The best time to book a flight is generally one to two months out for domestic trips. For international flights, book six to eight months out for the best deals. However, there are many factors that can lead to an increase (or decrease) in the price of an airline ticket.
According to travel booking site Hopper, flying midweek will score you the best prices. Tuesday and Wednesday are typically the cheapest days to fly domestically. For international travel, midweek is also best. Hopper recommends departing earlier in the week (between Monday and Wednesday) and returning later in the week (between Tuesday and Thursday) for international flights.
Flight search sites like Google Flights and Kayak have a price-tracking tool, which allows users to set an alert for when the price changes on a route of interest. This is a great option for stalking your flight for the best price.
For flights booked at least seven days or more prior to departure, the Department of Transportation requires that airlines flying within, into, or out of the United States allow customers to cancel without penalty within 24 hours. So, if you see a good airfare, you can always hold it for 24 hours while you look around a bit more or make a final decision on your travel plans.
You can filter your search by the number of stops, flight duration, airlines (handy for eliminating carriers you definitely do not want to fly with), and departure and arrival times. You can also filter by the number of bags you want to check, all of which helps travelers find the best deals that meet their specific needs. (For instance, I am often traveling with two small kids, so shorter flight times and fewer stops are more important to me than the absolute rock-bottom prices.) You can search more than one origin or destination airport as well to expand your options.
Instead, research by Expedia shows the ideal day to book a flight is Sunday. For domestic flights, you can get the best airfare by booking at the end of the weekend. Doing so can save you around 5%. For international flights, the savings are nearly 10%.
Looking for the best time to buy tickets to Europe or other international locations? Book a summer trip. Expedia data shows that August is the cheapest warm-weather month to fly, with average ticket prices nearly 10% lower compared with July. Tickets are also cheaper in August than during the December rush.
Make sure you read the fine print, paying attention to any unexpected fees or restrictions, before booking. And keep in mind that airlines will always give priority to passengers who booked directly through them rather than through a third-party site. So weigh your actual savings against the possibility of what might happen if you have an issue with delays, cancellations or lost baggage.
"There is no one day or 'golden rule' about when to book that applies to all travel," Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper, says. The booking app relies on eight years of data and 70 trillion flight prices to recommend the best time to book specific routes and dates.
"Most domestic trip airfare will fall between one and three months before your departure, before rising rapidly in the last three to four weeks before takeoff," Berg said. "This means there is a sweet spot where airlines will be offering lower prices on average and are more likely to offer promotional discounts and ultra-low fares."
While there is no magical time or day of the week to book airfare for the best prices, your best bet is to fly midweek, specifically Wednesdays, for both domestic and international travel. Flying over the weekend usually comes at a significant price premium.
According to a recent study by Expedia, the cheapest day to book flights is Sunday. When comparing Sunday flight prices to Friday, Expedia found that travelers save 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights. For the past four years, Sunday has been the best day of the week to book flights.
Another reason to book international flights in advance is to take advantage of price drops. Basic economy fares are still generally non-changeable on most airlines. However, standard economy fares can now be freely changeable on many U.S. airlines.
During the height of the pandemic, most U.S. airlines eliminated change fees on standard economy tickets. This change opened the door to a new way of ending up with the cheapest flight: Book early and rebook at a cheaper rate when your price drops.
Old guidelines on the cheapest day to book flights, or even specific recommendations such as booking airfare Tuesdays at 1 p.m. or exactly 50 days from the flight date are outdated. "Airfare is unpredictable," Keyes says. "The best way to time it is to think in terms of 'Goldilocks' windows: not too early, not too late, in the middle, just right."
The general rule is that for domestic flights, travelers should start searching for flight tickets one to three months in advance. For international flights, the best prices are typically available from two to eight months in advance. But with gas prices this volatile, waiting to buy can have its benefits, too.
"With Southwest and Spirit, you're still going to get the cheapest fare further out," says Edward Russell, airlines reporter at Skift. "If you're looking to fly American or United, they're holding inventory, so it's a roll of the dice."
"Preserve your flexibility. It's impractical not to book the nonrefundable fares from airlines because the gap between them and fully refundable fares is too large," Brancatelli says. "But don't prepay hotels, car rentals or most other travel components. The difference in price isn't that great. Flexibility in these odd times has great value."
Travelers can also try researching different days and times to travel. In addition, even after tickets are purchased, airlines may change routes or timing as they adjust flight availability to match demand.
It's possible that mask mandates on planes and public transportation might be lifted this year only to be reinstated if another outbreak occurs. Stay flexible and be prepared to wear a mask on your flight. Rules around vaccination and masking may vary across airlines, destinations and countries.
However, if you want to ensure that your seat will be available, then Friday evenings are the best time to book flights because most airlines stop selling seats after this point, in preparation for weekend departures.
However, if you plan to visit popular summer holiday destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, or Asia, book your flight for Monday through Thursday for lower prices. The second half of July is when tickets are cheapest if you depart between June and August. 041b061a72