When it comes to travel, perhaps the biggest expense is airfare, which means you really want to find affordable flights. The trouble is, fares fluctuate so frequently that it becomes a bit of a game to figure out when to buy your ticket at the best price. While there’s no way to know that you’re for sure getting the very lowest fare, there are some guidelines that can shave off some dollars.
Plan Ahead, But Not Too Early
Some people say that waiting until the last minute to buy your ticket is the way to get a cheap flight, but that’s rarely the case. The general rule of thumb is to book at least 21 days in advance. That ensures an affordable rate without having to sit next to the bathroom or in a middle seat. If you want a little more choice and an even cheaper fare, you should really book your flight about a month and a half in advance. Day 47 is typically when the fares start to rise. When you buy your ticket about 50 days in advance, you’re probably getting the best rate.
It’s important to know how the airlines manage their tickets. Rates usually start high, and then gradually lower in price. Around that magic day 47, fares rise again. Which is to say, when the standard ticket becomes available for purchase (320 days before departure is common), that fare is probably at its most expensive price. So, don’t be too much of a planner. Wait it out.
Which Day to Book
Some say Sundays are the best days to book, while travel agents whisper Wednesdays are the cheap days to travelers at the airport. Everyone agrees Saturday is a terrible day to purchase a ticket. The truth is, there doesn’t seem to be a best day of the week to get a stellar fare. But since we know the rates start to fluctuate quite a bit about two months out, that’s when you should start to troll the internet and monitor the fares. When they start to drop, pay attention. Keep that day 47 rule in mind, and you should get a good rate.
Days of Travel
While the booking day might be elusive, the days you actually travel certainly matter. It stands to reason that most people travel during weekends because they aren’t working. Many tend to take a Monday or Friday off, so by process of elimination, you’re right to assume that Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to to travel (the verdict is out on Thursday). When you’re planning your trip, you should get the best fares if you travel out on a Wednesday and return on a Tuesday.
Pick Your Seat Wisely
Travel fees can rack up quickly. Make sure you don’t waste money on a seat upgrade if you really don’t need one. By being amenable about your seat, you can get a cheaper fare on a better flight. It’s about the destination, after all.
Scoring a cheap ticket is a great feeling. What strategies do you have for the best airfares?