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Ever wondered when to buy plane tickets so that you can take advantage of the best airline prices? When is that “prime booking window” your friends who go on vacations all the time like to boast about hitting? Are you looking for cheap airline tickets? How is it that you ended buying your tickets for $200 more than the person sitting next to you in the coveted window seat? It’s all about timing.
Before I answer your questions, I will let you in on a small secret. Airlines use something called airline revenue management software that calculates airline ticket prices real-time and seats are sold based on what’s going to keep those planes flying and making money. So a seat on a flight to Paris could be one price today and a totally different price tomorrow. It gives the airlines the upper hand but it’s still possible to buy plane tickets at a discounted price. Click here to buy airline tickets.
Where are you staying once you get there? Research hotel prices by clicking here.
Best way to book flights
What is the best way to get cheap flights? The answer is to shop around and compare when looking for cheap airline tickets. Some airfare sites (not all) charge a ticketing or booking fee that increases the actual price of the airfare. My favorite site for comparison shopping for the best airline deals is Airfare Watchdog.
Here is a list of other sites:
I must add another site; Southwest.com. Although this site only focuses on one airline there’s no getting past the fact that being able to bring your luggage along with you free of charge is very attractive. And if you book at least two weeks in advance and/or during one of their promotions, you can save lots of money.
So what if you use a travel agent to book a flight? You could actually be paying more with a travel agent. Here’s why: most travel agents add on booking fees to the price of the airfare. And they should because the airlines no longer pay travel agents commission on airfare.
When to buy plane tickets
When to book flights to save cash? Don’t book your flight too far out. But don’t wait until the last minute!
For 2019, the best time to book an airfare deal for flights inside CONUS (continental United States) is 70 days in advance. The period of time where flights tend to be at least 5% cheaper, known as the prime booking window, is 21-121 days in advance.
Ahhh, but do airfare prices fluctuate according to the time of year that you plan on traveling? YES! (Damn that airline revenue management software!). If your travel plans are in:
- Prime Booking Window – 21-110 days before departure
- Best day to book – 62 days before departure
- Prime Booking Window – 46-122 days
- Best day to book – 90 days
- Prime Booking Window – 14-160 days
- Best day to book – 47 days
- Prime Booking Window – 21-100 days
- Best day to book – 69 days
*Please note: this is just a guide. Times/dates are approximate.
The airfares are higher before and after the prime booking window. Thus, book too early and you will probably pay 5% more than the cheap tickets; wait until the last minute to book and you might pay 25% more or worse.
Find the best airfare prices here.
So, let’s talk more about those last-minute airfare deals? It’s a big risk waiting until the last minute (20-14 days in advance). But hey; who doesn’t like a good game of roulette? There is a slim chance you could beat the odds and score last minute cheap airline tickets. Every once in a while you might get lucky and catch that last-minute deal. However, most consumer airline surveys say airlines jack up the price of last-minute airfare because you’re desperate and will pay about anything for your plane ticket.
When is the best time to book flights
When is the best time to buy airline tickets? Some experts say there isn’t a “best time to buy plane tickets”. The time of day doesn’t matter.
However, in a theory that has been tested time and time again by me, it does matter what time of the day you purchase your ticket when looking for an airfare deal. My advice is this: the cheapest time to buy flights is mid-morning/mid-afternoon when folks are at work and late night/early morning when most folks are sleeping. Don’t ask me why, but 9 times out of 10 I’ve scored awesome deals during these time period.
Again, a disclaimer; this theory is based on my experience.
Best Days to Buy Airline Tickets
I’ve been told that this is an old wives tales but I swear by it. Most people are off on the weekend so that is the time folks are searching for good prices. Forget it, you won’t find any. High demand=High prices. I swear by the Tuesday/Wednesday morning rule. This is the best time to purchase great deals because most of us in the U.S. are at work so low demand=perfect time for a drop in airfare. Mondays and Fridays are the 2nd worse time to find cheap flights because those are days that people call off work, thus increase in demand which means high prices. Sounds half-baked but this rule has served me well over the years.
Tip for the Older Woman Solo
Traveling by yourself allows you to be flexible when it comes to travel dates. Use that flexibility to score the cheap tickets by traveling on the cheap days; Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday. Click here for deals on airfare.
So if you’re seated in a window seat for your next flight (aisle seat for those of us who hate crawling over folks to get the bathroom) and you’ve paid the proverbial sweet spot for that plane ticket be sure to stop by this blog and tell mama all about it.