Plane Tickets: Save Money By Knowing When To Buy

Plane tickets are expensive! At their cheapest they easily cost several hundred dollars for a round-trip ticket (or even one-way, ouch!). The price of a plane ticket depends on a variety of factors, including: the airline, your destination and the length of the flight. While most of these factors are uncontrollable, the price of plane tickets also fluctuate significantly depending on:

  1. The time of day and the day of the week you book your ticket.
  2. The days and times you choose to fly.
  3. How far in advance you book your flight.

By learning the optimal times to fly and book flights you can save hundreds of dollars on your plane tickets every time you travel.

Book in Advance:

One of the easiest ways to save a significant amount of money on plane tickets is to book in advance. However, booking in advance does require substantial pre-planning and is therefore not a viable option for flyers who do not know their travel plans ahead of time. On average, plane tickets are cheapest when purchased approximately 7 weeks (about 50 days) in advance. Whatever you do, never buy a plane ticket less than a week in advance unless absolutely necessary. Airlines take advantage of individuals desperate to purchase a plane ticket and often increase their per-ticket price by hundreds of dollars the last week before a flight. Since many factors affect the price of plane tickets and they fluctuate several times per day, it is best to begin monitoring flights around 8 weeks before your trip in order to get a feel for the prices and to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

Cheapest Months to Fly:

Another great way to save money on airfare is to fly during the months when tickets are cheapest.  Always avoid booking a flight during holiday months or “vacation” months, such as: December, summer (July and August), and the two to three-week spring break period spanning from the end of March to early April. The cheapest months to fly are September, October, and spring months (excluding the spring break period). Furthermore, the first two weeks of December between Thanksgiving and Christmas are also generally discounted. You can also usually count on some bargains to be found in January following the week of New Years.

Which Day to Buy:

Believe it or not, the exact day of the week and time of day you book your flight can make a huge difference in the amount of money you pay for your ticket.  Airline tickets are generally cheapest at times when most people are at work and are most expensive on weekends and evenings during the week. Tuesdays at 3 PM Eastern Time have been proven to, on average, be the cheapest time to buy airline tickets. However, if you miss that specific window, flights are often similarly discounted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from late morning through mid-afternoon.

So, the keys to getting the best prices on airfare are:

  1. Book in advance (about 50 days if possible)
  2. Make the purchase on a Tuesday around 3pm (or any other weekday besides Friday)
  3. Choose flights with departure times during normal working hours on weekdays.