When planning a trip you may often wonder when the best time is to book your flights. If you book too soon, you could miss a great deal. If you wait too long, those deals have been snapped up and you’re stuck paying high-priced, last-minute fares.
So, when should you book a flight to get the best deal?
CheapAir.com surveyed flight pricing data for more than four million domestic trips in 2013 – we expect 2014 results to be released in a few months. It found the best time to book a flight is 54 days before your departure date. That’s about seven-and-a-half weeks before your trip.
It also found that the worst time to book is a day or two before the flight. In fact, once you’re 13 days away from your departure date, the prices start climbing quickly.
Why does the price change so much?
Ticket prices can fluctuate hundreds of dollars over the course of just a few weeks. Why does this happen? Simple supply and demand.
CheapAir CEO Jeff Klee told Business Insider that the number of people who already booked tickets is the single biggest factor in price fluctuation. You will also see high prices when you want to fly to a remote destination or you are flying into or out of a small airport. In fact, these factors influence price more than the number of miles you want to travel.
What about international travel?
International travel is an entirely different story. Travel + Leisure found that flights to Asia should be booked nine to ten months out. Traveling to South America? Buy your tickets around six months before you want to leave.
Flights to Africa were the outlier – prices start to drop about three months before your departure date but won’t hit rock bottom until five weeks out.
Using a fare-watching service is the best way to ensure you get a good deal. Airfarewatchdog, CheapAir and FareCompare will all alert you when prices drop, allowing you to take advantage of the lowest price.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten for a flight? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.