Travellers heading to their destination via flight always have the same conundrum, when is the best time to book flights online? Many companies have been tracking flights, over 1 billion in fact, and reported when they think the sweet spots are. One of the most impressive studies to be released (and sure to help you answer that mind-numbing question ... when is the best time to book your airfare?) is by CheapAir.com.
CheapAir.com released an impressive account of results found from 2013. They monitored 4,191,533 trips; in terms of airfares, this is over $1.3 billion. All because they listen to their customers whose number one question is ... you guessed it ... when is the best time to book flights online?
Their report may shock those who still avidly believe that last minute vacations are the way to go. They aren't. Prices increase dramatically at that last two week interval. My personal opinion on this fact is that it has a lot to do with airline cutbacks and the good ol' supply and demand model. With less flights more travellers are warring for the seats so there is no reason to drop the prices. Plus, so many still think its the cheapest route when booking their flight, so there are that many more people trying to get the same seat.
Another surprise for some, is that booking far in advance is not always the best option. Airlines have no reason to provide great pricing 310 day before a trip. They wait to drop prices until they need to.
The best time to book a flight varied depending on where the traveller was headed.
According to CheapAir.com's study Domestic flights were at their cheapest (and therefore what we would consider the most optimal time to buy your plane ticket) between 29 and 104 days. They saw that the price was within$10 of the lowest fare during this time frame.
CheapAir.com found that on average the best day to book was 54 days in advance, but of course there are exceptions. Like, if you are heading to Cancun for Spring Break. It is best to book well in advance because demand is high and therefore the prices are unlikely to drop drastically. For Christmas they found that the best day to buy was June 5th of the year before!
Those looking to book an international flight, don't worry, the busy reps at CheapAir.com didn't forget you. (Kudos to the team that put this study together at CheapAir.com, they did an amazing job). They listed the average 'best day' to book on (meaning how many days before your flight), and reported:
Mexico: 89 Days
Caribbean: 101 Days
Latin America: 80 Days
Europe: 151 Days
Middle East: 80 Days
Africa: 166 Days
Asia: 129 Days
South Pacific: 90 Days
Remember, this study is a guideline. No one can guarantee when the exact moment the cheapest airfare will be available. Much of it relies heavily on 'supply and demand' as mentioned above. But having such a good educated guess in your back pocket should be a great help.