Book 6 Weeks In Advance, and Other Cheap Flight Tips

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Once again, someone has taken a stab at unrooting one of the most elusive of universal truths – when is the best time to buy an airline ticket? Even I gave it a shot a couple of years ago. Now comes news of yet another set of data claiming to hold the magic formula for booking a flight that doesn’t break your budget.

According to a study conducted by the Airlines Reporting Corp., you have the best chance of getting the best deal on an airline ticket if you buy it 6 weeks in advance. This is based on data collected from millions of airfare transactions over 4 years time. In all, the average savings for purchasing tickets 6 weeks prior to your departure date is 6 percent.

This same study also shows the worst times to buy airline tickets. No big surprise there. Try to avoid buying your ticket a week or less before you leave. And, by all means, avoid at all cost buying your ticket the same day of departure, as you can expect the price to go up as much as 40 percent over the regular airfare cost.

Beyond the 6-week magic number, I defer to my own Top 5 Ways to Book Cheap Flights, summarized in brief below:

  • Purchase tickets on Tuesdays; fly on Wednesdays. After announcing new ticket sales Monday night, airlines are competing with each other Tuesday morning (i.e., giving you the best deals). As for Wednesdays, it’s the least-traveled day (i.e., the cheapest).
  • Use fare comparison websites like Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline. Kayak is my personal fave.
  • Be flexible with your flight dates and times. Sometimes the difference of just a couple of days, or even a couple of hours, can mean a big price jump.
  • Be flexible about destinations. Take advantage of killer deals when you focus on the getaway as opposed to the destination.
  • Do not hesitate. After doing your homework comparison shopping, you’ll know a good deal when you see it. Book it! Waiting a few days, or even a few hours, could mean missing out.

What’s your best tip for booking cheap flights?

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