When to Fly? When to Buy?
Air travel is full of hassles. Perhaps the greatest of all air related irritations is the point of purchase. Flight prices are constantly fluctuating on a daily basis due to a variety of market related pressures on airline companies (We can only assume, the system is nearly impossible to understand). Buying flight tickets before or after they drop to the lowest point can be maddening for travelers looking to maximize a deal. Fortunately for fliers, some trends exist to help people buy on the lower end. While these strategies are far from foolproof, they work on consistent trends that occur within the airline industry. Search Resources: It might seem like a simple question, but for new or even seasoned travelers, “How to search out the cheapest flight?” hangs over head. People often search directly through airlines, which may be due to inexperience or business mandates; however, this rarely illuminates the lowest common denominator. To maximize value of your flight tickets use a comparison website like CheapOair, Hipmunk, or one of the many other comparison websites. These websites show the same flight, airport to airport, across different airlines on a given date, allowing travelers to find the best deal. Even if a certain airline is required by your company, it may be helpful to gauge the market on different days for future reference. One thing to note when using comparison websites or applications, make sure to clear your cookies (In your internet history, not on your plate) between comparison searches. This might be more rumor than fact, but some comparison websites may adjust pricing for flights based on previous searches on similar dates through the same airports. Whether or not this is true, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution and clear your cookies anyway to get an unfiltered view of the booking market. Time Frame: The crux issue of purchasing flight tickets remains the time frame. Buy too early and you’ll be kicking yourself watching the price drop. Buy too late and you’ll be sweating the rising prices up to the trip date. To combat the inner turmoil of your decision it’s better to monitor the prices early on; however, it’s best not to buy too early as prices are often higher due to expected demand. Typically, the best time to purchase a flight is approximately 1 to 3 months away from your expected departure. That’s when ticket costs often drop in order to fill up flights. If you buy less than a month away from your flight date, you might fall prey to mark-up spikes as the airline companies take advantage of desperate fliers. While the 1 to 3 month time frame is far from absolute, it remains a solid guideline for individuals looking to avoid a drastic overpay. Days to Fly: While buying at the correct time helps lower the bill, choosing the right days to fly also goes a long way towards saving money. Most people want to fly on Fridays after the work week, or Sundays to get back before the week starts. Many people also try to fly out on Thursdays to try and stretch the weekend. While this may be the most convenient time to fly, it’s far from the most cost-effective. Flight prices normally spike on Fridays and Sundays as they are peak travel days in high demand. Even Thursday, while less popular, suffers from weekend price spikes. Unfortunately, the best time to fly is the days no one wants to fly, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Either smack in the middle of the weekend, or in the middle of the work week, these days are typically less popular with travelers; thus, prices typically dip below the norm. Again, nothing is absolute, but these days often exhibit lower flight prices and save travelers a solid chunk of cash. Flexibility: If possible, try to stay flexible when purchasing tickets. Order on unpopular travel days, while searching well in advance through comparison websites (Clear Cookies!). Also, try to stay open to odd combinations of trips, longer layovers, and connections, as the odd or unwanted trips tend to be the cheapest. Most importantly, do your research as a little preparation before booking your trip goes a long way towards saving money!