People often think the best time to buy airline tickets is the moment you decide to take a trip — in other words, as early as possible. But according to a new study by Airlines Reporting Corp., the best time to book your flight for domestic travel within the U.S. is six weeks before departure. They provide a neat graph of average ticket prices based on how many days in advance you book.
For this study, data from millions of flights from 2008 through the end of 2011 was used. At about 13 weeks before departure, ticket prices begin to fall, and continue their steady downward trend until six weeks out. By waiting to book six weeks before travel, you can save almost 6% on the average cost of a ticket.
Although six weeks out is where you’ll find the lowest average fare, it isn’t necessarily the only time you’ll find deals.
We’re not advising people to purchase tickets only at this time during the cycle as there is no guarantee they will receive the lowest price of the year; it is just what the data indicates and we have seen this pattern over the last four years.
My suggestion is to start shopping about 10 weeks before your flight. Set up fare alerts at sites like Kayak.com, which will notify you of any price drops.
The cheapest day to fly? Wednesday, according to Farecompare.com. The first flight Wednesday morning is often the best deal, although it requires waking up earlier than you might like. Tuesday and Saturday are also good days to fly. Avoid Friday and Sunday — the most expensive days. As for when should you book your tickets, Tuesdays at 3pm Eastern often provides the best deals.
Photo by flightsimulator.hubpages.com