Many of my clients choose to book their own airfare because of frequent flyer points from both the airlines and credit cards. So, I’d like to share a little knowledge and the results of the 2018 Annual Airfare Study (according to Zack Friedman, Founder & CEO of Make Lemonade) of the best time to book your tickets.
In 2018, for flights within the continental U.S., 70 days in advance was the best time, on average, to buy your airline ticket.
Here is the best time to buy your airline ticket depending on the season:
Winter: 62 days in advance
Spring: 90 days in advance
Summer: 47 days in advance
Fall: 69 days in advance
Best Time to Buy
While Christmas and New Years can be among the most expensive travel periods, you can still get good deals for non-holiday winter travel.
Here is the best time to buy: 62 days in advance
Prime Booking Window: 21-110 days from travel date
Fare Difference: $260 (best day and worst day)
While there are no major holidays during the spring that cause significant price increases, spring break can drive up prices throughout March and April.
Here is the best time to buy: 90 days in advance
Prime Booking Window: 46-122 days from travel date
Fare Difference: $263 (best day and worst day)
Summer is the most popular travel season, with July being the top month for travel. The lowest fares are in August and September.
Here is the best time to buy: 47 days in advance
Prime Booking Window: 14-160 days from travel date
Fare Difference: $203 (best day and worst day)
With the exception of Thanksgiving, you can find great bargains for fall travel.
Here is the best time to buy: 69 days in advance
Prime Booking Window: 21-100 days from travel date
Fare Difference: $83 (best day and worst day)
The 6 Booking Zones
Here is the ebb and flow of ticket prices, and the give and take of waiting.
1. First Dibs: 6-11 months in advance
It would seem logical that buying flight tickets in advance means you will find the lowest fares. However, that's not always the case.
If you buy in this window, you may pay a $50 premium and subsequent buyers may find lower cost tickets due to fare sales.
If you don't mind the extra cost, the advantage of buying early is access to more flight options and a better chance of securing your desired flight.
2. Peace of Mind: 4-6 months in advance
This window is lower cost than First Dibs. While you may pay $20 more than discounted fares, you will still have a wider selection of flights and seats.
3. Prime Booking Window: 3 weeks -4 months in advance
Attention bargain shoppers: this is your window.
This is when you will find the best fares.
This window, on average, sees fares range within 5% of their lowest price.
4. Push Your Luck: 2-3 weeks in advance
You're getting close, and this is the next best option after the Prime Booking Window.
Watch out because your first choice for seats may not be available.
5. Playing with Fire: 1-2 weeks in advance
Prices will be higher than the Prime Booking Window, but still cheaper than the last minute purchase.
The upside is your ticket fare will be 22% less expensive than the next category.
6. Hail Mary: 0-6 days in advance
If you've waited this long, good luck on finding your favorite flight and seat options.
You'll also pay $208 more, on average, than if you purchased the same ticket during the Prime Booking Window.
For the lucky few, you may find a surprising, last minute fare - particularly if you're flexible on destination, connections and flight time.
Some parting wisdom:
1. Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly.
2. If you fly on Wednesday rather than Sunday, you'll save $76 on average.
3. The fastest way to earn free travel is through a travel rewards credit card.
Have any questions or want to plan for an upcoming trip? Give me a call. I here to help!