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How to save on your next flight

A woman saved money on her flight by finding the best time to book.
January 15, 2019

By Katie Pins

Travel expenses can add up very quickly. Whether you’re doing an all-inclusive trip or an affordable European vacation, just getting there can sometimes be your biggest expense. You’ll want to spend your vacation fund once you reach your destination, not just trying to get to and from. Everyone is trying to find out when is the best time to book a flight. There's a lot of conflicting information out there. In short, your prime booking window is four months to three weeks in advance, according to a variety of airline studies. We’ve broken down the data to help you save money on your next flight.

How far in advance should you book a flight?

It's a question we are all asking —and a quick search will lead to conflicting results. Skyscanner experts say the best time to book flights for domestic trips is two to three weeks in advance. Skyscanner also says the best time to book an international flight is five to six months in advance. However, the Airlines Reporting Corporation and Travel and Leisure found different data. The Airlines Reporting Corporation says seven weeks in advance will give you the best bang for your buck. Travel and Leisure claims that 10 weeks out will be your ideal time to buy.

With all this conflicting info, when are you supposed to book a flight? Your prime booking window is four months to three weeks in advance, according to a variety of airline studies. This answer is more realistic because it’s a larger window, allowing you to take into account a lot of variables such as time of year, destination and demand.

What day of the week should I buy?

Farecompare.com found that the best day of the week to buy is Tuesday. Skyscanner found that Saturday was the best day to book domestic flights. To try and get a clear answer, we did a test on a few flights and compared the listed price on a Saturday and the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a price difference on our flights. Like the number of days in advance, the price you get on the weekday you book depends on the flight. In short, the best day to buy may be the day that's most convenient to you.

How can you ensure you’re getting the best deal?

Sign up for free price alerts

Instead of checking flights on your own every day, set up price alerts. Most online booking sites have alerts that will tell you when ticket prices are expected to drop or rise. Set up your alert around four months in advance so you can monitor the change in price. Some of the easiest flight alerts to set up are on Kayak or Google Flights or an app like Hopper.

Clear your cookies

If you’re finding that there is a disconnect between your alerts and the prices you're seeing, it may be your cookies. Booking sites sometimes raise prices the more you look at flights to get you to book quickly, thinking the price is going up. Clear your cookies on your devices and use an incognito or privacy window on your web browser to make sure you're getting the lowest price.

Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday

The day of the week you fly will probably get you a better deal than the day of the week you book your flight. The cheapest days to fly are typically on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. If you want to visit friends or family for a long weekend, try switching your trip schedule. Fly on Wednesday night, work remotely on Thursday and then enjoy the rest of your time.

Fly during the off-season

Book a trip when others aren’t traveling. That could mean visiting Europe during the winter or Central America in the summer. Flights are significantly cheaper if you become an off-season traveler, and you’ll also save on your other vacation costs. Flights to Europe in January can be the same cost as a domestic flight. It’s definitely something to consider when you’re looking for a good travel deal.

 

Want some other travel tips and ways to save on your next vacation? Check out these Money Mentor articles:


Katie Pins is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.