How far in advance should I book? Is there a specific day that is best? What time of day are prices lower?
These are all questions we have asked at one point while planning travel.
Experts at Cheapair.com recently completed their annual airfare study. Each year they analyze over 900 trillion flight fares from almost 3 million destinations to determine when the best deals for domestic flights within the United States are available.
“Our Airfare Study aims to explain the ‘method to the madness’ and give travelers a sense of the best time to buy and fly,” CEO Jeff Klee said in a statement. “We hear from travelers all the time who are frustrated that a fare they saw one day is dramatically higher the next.” Klee added that it’s “equally disturbing” when airfare plummets just a few weeks after you book a trip.
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According to the study, the best time to purchase airfare is about 70 days prior to departure. This is an increase from last year’s study which revealed the best time to be around 54 days in advance.
Experts further recommend that travelers carefully watch flight prices during the “Prime Booking Window.” This time frame is four months to three weeks prior to departure. It is best to set a fare tracker through sites like Google Flights or Kayak.
You are taking a big risk if you wait to purchase last minute. Those who try to book a trip 13 to 7 days out, should expect to pay $85 more than those who booked during the prime window. If you wait even more, prices have the potential to rise by $208 within six days of departure.
CheapAir.com’s study also rejects the commonly held myth that certain days of the week are better for flight shopping. “The average fares purchased each day were virtually identical,” the study concluded. (If someone tells you to buy on Sunday or Tuesday, they’re wrong.)