Estimated Monthly Savings: $125
Buying airline tickets has become easier these days, but we are still faced with a question that’s existed since commercial air travel was possible; how soon should you buy an airline ticket? The answer might surprise you.
Why should I book flights in advance?
This article states the average cost of vacation airline expenses in a year was $3,304. But you can bet most people don’t take the time to book flights far enough in advance. The changing prices of plane tickets can be confusing, rising and falling seemingly at random. This is because the airline is trying to get as much money as possible for each seat they sell. Most of the time, business travelers are going to buy their tickets closer to the flight date than a vacation traveler can. This allows you to get tickets for your flight before the airline knows how much it needs to charge for those tickets.
When is the right time to book?
According to this study of 1.5 billion airfares by CheapAir, the sweet spot to book your flights is 47 days in advance. On average, you’re looking at a savings of 33% compared to next-day tickets. How much you can save with this technique is going to depend on the season you travel, the location, and how far. If you spend more than the average on airline tickets, you can save that much more by purchasing early.
How early is too early?
There is such as thing as booking too early, and you won’t want to buy your tickets for US travel before about three months, or six months for international travel. According to the same CheapAir study, fares were about $50 more expensive on average at 320 days out. Prices start to drop slowly over time, but will start rising again sometime around that 47 day sweet spot. For the most consistent savings, go ahead and book early, since you’ll see a lot less fluctuation in the cost of airfare early on compared to the last few weeks before departure.
This may sound like a lot to take in, but there’s a good rule of thumb you can remember here. The best window to book flights is between 90 and 47 days; if you stick to this range, you’ll hit the sweet spot for airfare prices. After all, who couldn’t use another vacation?