THE BEST TIME TO BUY AIRLINE TICKETS
Travelers often swap theories on the right—and wrong—time to book a flight. We've heard it all: The lowest fares are on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern. You need to book at least two months before you fly. Websites like Kayak suggest when you should buy, or if you should wait—like we're all trading stocks—but there's no guarantee. "There is no secret time. You need to look four times a day—minimum—every day of the week, as far in advance as you can." For today’s traveler, this confluence of circumstances—more planes, lower prices, more destinations—is exceptional,
Finding a decent airfare deal can be a challenge but if you know the best time to buy airline tickets, it’s a breeze. Here are some general rules to follow.
Best time to buy: Tuesdays at about 3 p.m. eastern time. Reason: Many U.S. airlines begin airfare sales that appear on their websites late Monday or early Tuesday; the competition then matches these newly lowered prices and this is generally finished by Tuesday afternoon. That’s when shoppers have the most deals to choose from.
Be sure to compare prices: Let’s say you see a good deal in an airline sale; don’t buy it yet! Always compare airfares, because no airline always has the best deal; not on every route, not every single day. If you don’t compare, you might pay too much or even way too much.
Are there other ways to save on airfare?
When you know where you want to go, setting airfare alerts is very helpful. If you aren’t sure where you’d like to travel or even when, you’ll find many good deals on the Getaway Map. More tips:
Fly the cheapest days: For U.S. domestic travel, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are usually the cheapest days to fly. The most expensive days: usually Fridays and Sundays. For international flights, mid-week travel is generally cheaper than weekends. Always compare fares for multiple itineraries to be sure. And an easy way to find the cheapest itinerary is by using the Getaway Map.
Compare nonstop flights with connecting flights: Adding a stop to your route, especially on longer flights, can sometimes save up to 50%. It’s always worth trying.
Fly from bigger airports: Bigger usually means cheaper, and big hub-type airports can be cheapest of all. Compare prices from the nearest large airport in your hometown and see if the long drive is worth it to you.
Avoid peak season travel: If you can vacation in fall or winter, or travel in Spring (while avoiding Spring Break weeks), you can often find much better deals.
One last useful savings tip
The price of checking a bag can add roundtrip to your trip; on most airlines, a carry-on is still free. However, even if you have to pay for this smaller bag, it’s still worth it because the bag that flies by your side is the bag that will not get lost.