Travel Guides

When to book a flight and save money

The best time to purchase airfare is 76 days before your anticipated travel date, according to a report from CheapAir.

The website analyzed over 8,000 different destinations and 917 million airfares and found the sweet spot to booking the best travel deal.

Winter

The report says “most winter destinations offer good value for the money.”

  • The average best time to buy is 94 days from travel (just over 3 months)
  • The prime booking window is 74 to 116 days (about 2.5 months to nearly 4 months)
  • The average domestic fare for winter travel is $433, by far the most expensive time of the year for air travel
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $168, which is quite a bit lower than in other seasons. There is much less volatility in airfare pricing all season.

Spring

CheapAir says plan ahead. “There are no major travel holidays in the spring, but both families and college students enjoy spring break for much of March and April. Take advantage of lower mid-week prices to help keep costs down.”

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  • The average best time to buy is 84 days from travel, or nearly 3 months
  • The prime booking window is 47 to 119 days (about 1.5 months to just under 4 months)
  • The average domestic fare for spring travel is $354
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $285

Summer

The report recommends you look closer to the end of the season, like August or September.

  • The average best time to buy is 99 days out from travel
  • The prime booking window is 21 to 150 days (about 3 weeks to 5 months)
  • The average domestic fare for peak summer travel is $365
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $260
  • Late summer and early fall is shoulder season, and as such, offers great deals (Labor Day weekend notwithstanding). Flying the second half of August on into September is the sweet spot for these deals.

Fall

You’ll find great value here. “Fall is shoulder season for a lot of destinations, and people simply do not travel as much. Of course, the one exception to this rule is Thanksgiving week.”

  • The average best time to buy is 69 days from travel
  • The prime booking window is 20 to 109 days (about 3 weeks to 3.5 months)
  • The average domestic fare for fall travel is $342, which makes it the best season to find travel bargains
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $280

The report also nixed the myth that booking on a certain day of the week will save you money. CheapAir says it’ll only save you a few dollars here and there. What will make a bigger difference, however, is how long you are away for.

As fares fluctuate regularly, try to snap up a ticket when you see a good deal and avoid playing the waiting game. Often if you step away, you’ll come back disappointed to see prices have gone up.

Source: CheapAir

Winston is currently a freelance technology and travel broadcast journalist, consultant, and is the creator and founder of Master Travellr—Canada’s destination for travel news, guides, and budget recommendations.

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