A recent article in Conde Nast Traveler magazine finally puts to rest the best time to buy a plane ticket. For years I’ve heard people tell me the best time to buy a plane ticket was in the middle of the night and on random days. According to a recent study by Expedia and The Airlines Reporting Corporation, the best time to find the cheapest flights are 57 days in advance for a domestic flight, and 171 days in advance for an international flight.
The ideal advance-purchase time for domestic flights (to snag the lowest average airfare)
The ideal advance-purchase time for international flights
Airline fare pricing is extremely complex with many variables, but this appears to be a “scientific study”, so I’ll drink the koolaid. The article also states that prices are generally the lowest on Tuesdays, which is usually when airlines post their sales for the week. Based on my anecdotal evidence, the best deals are generally on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturdays.
Always avoid holidays, especially Christmas. Flight deals are rare on or around major US holidays. Flexibility is key in finding a great deal, and nationwide flight deals can occur at any time. If you see us post a great deal, then we always recommend to buy ASAP! You can always cancel a purchased airfare within 24 hours.
Another thing I have noticed is that countries that are economically distressed also have some of the best flight deals. This is particularly true in Europe right now. While it might make you nervous to visit what the media might identify as an unstable country, it’s generally safe if you use common sense.
If you want to save more money on flight purchases read our article on how to find the cheapest flight possible. The article has some of the best advice here at Thrifty Traveler.