When is the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets?

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Lots of people often asked me “When is the best time to buy airline tickets?”, and until recently I always told them “As far in advance as possible”.

While this is reasonable advice, it seems there is a more accurate (and scientific) approach that you can when buying airline tickets to get the cheapest prices possible.

As it turns out, the best time to buy airline tickets is on a Tuesday afternoon, eight weeks before you want to fly.

Why? Let’s take a closer look…

Buy on a Tuesday

If you want to get the best deal on airfare, you’ll have to time it right. FareCompare is a flight comparison search engine that allows you to enter in where and when you want to fly and it’ll find the cheapest flight for you (by looking across a range of options).

FareCompare deals with thousands of requests every day, and as a result of this they’ve been able to build up a database and analyze the figures – enabling them to clearly see the best time to buy airline tickets online.

The people at FareCompare say that because flights are typically registered/filed on Monday evenings, the best time to buy airline tickets is on Tuesday at around 3pm EST (Eastern Standard Time):

“At about 3pm Eastern time is when all the matching discounted seat prices hit reservation systems for domestic travel – this is when the maximum number of cheap seats are available to consumers”.

This ‘window of opportunity’ usually lasts from Tuesday to Thursday.

Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Buy 8 Weeks Before

Economist Makoto Watanabe has created with a formula designed to calculate the best time to buy an airline ticket (assuming you’re looking for the lowest prices available).

According to his formula, the best time to buy airline tickets is eight weeks before your flight.

Makoto’s formula looks something like this: ∏A = gUG + min(k-g, (1-g)(1-r)), where ∏ equals profit. While I can’t personally vouch for the maths, it certainly appears to yield the right results.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but if you want a basic guideline regarding the best time to buy airline tickets, booking 8 weeks in advance is generally a good rule of thumb.

For example, during peak times (such as before Thanksgiving and Spring Break), forget about the ‘8 week rule’ and try and get your airline tickets as far in advance as possible.

The second part of Watanabe’s formula suggests that the best time to buy airline tickets (i.e. when they are cheapest) is in the afternoon.

Of course, not everyone has the flexibility to be able to book all of their flights exactly eight weeks in advance.

If this is the case, you can use a fare prediction tool (such as Bing’s Farecast tool) to actively predict whether the current price of airfare is likely to rise or fall – giving you a strong indication as to whether you should buy now or what a little longer.

So what can we take from all of this? The best time to buy airline tickets is on a Tuesday afternoon, eight weeks before you flight.

Related posts:

  1. Booking Airline Tickets in Advance Vs Buying As You Go
  2. 5 Things You Need to Know About Round the World Tickets
  3. How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees
  4. Airline Fees: A Revealing Guide
  5. Airline Legroom Comparison (for Economy Class)

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  • http://www.paravion.ro/bilete-de-avion Paravion – bilete avion

    Good advice, I also start looking for tickets at least two months before I leave on my trip.