Airline Tickets: When’s the Best Time to Buy Them?

With the holidays fast approaching, millions of people are planning trip itineraries and buying airline tickets.  Some of those travelers plan to wait to the last minute, out of hope for last-minute deals or just plain ol’ procrastination.  Others purchase early because they assume the prices will only rise as time goes on.  Who’s right?  Should you purchase early, late, or somewhere in-between?

The 60-Day Rule

plane flying over buildings
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

It turns out the best time to purchase airline tickets is 60 days out from your trip, as reported by USA Today.   At this point, it’s highly unlikely the prices will be discounted any further.  The prices will probably hit record levels the closer you get to your travel date.  Additionally, most holiday travel is a necessity.  So, travelers are willing to pay premium prices for tickets.  This means your preferred flights could sell out even earlier than the 60-day mark.  You might need to consider 75-90 days if you’re headed somewhere popular.

With international flights, you can probably find the cheapest prices 45 days out from your departure date.  However, don’t chance it in November and December.

Buy Your Airline Tickets on Sundays

airline tickets plane interior
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

There are tons of myths out there about the best days to purchase airline tickets.  Maybe you’ve heard that Saturday is a notoriously high-priced day to shop for flights.  But you haven’t seen the proof to back up this claim.  Condé Nast Traveler set out to find the truth once and for all.  The answer?  The best day to buy tickets is Sunday.

That’s right.  Based on purchasing info from billions of passengers, Expedia determined that this day of leisure is when frequent flyers find the deepest savings.  Their tickets are almost 20% cheaper than what’s offered on the weekdays.  Just make sure you’re buying your tickets in advance.  Or this rule doesn’t apply.

Ticket Alerts

airline regulations

If the 60-day rule and the Sunday rule are just too much to remember, you still have ways to save.  Sign up for a travel alert and get personalized messages about cheap fares.  Try out sites like Airfare Watchdog and Hopper to get the scoop on the best prices.  Simply enter the cities you’re interested in traveling to.  Then, you’ll get periodic notifications when it’s time to buy.

Saving on your holiday flights involves some planning and coordination.  But the good news is there’s still time to book cheap travel.  Don’t delay (no pun intended).