I wish there was an answer to this question- The one that I’ve entered into Google every single time I travel. It doesn’t make sense, any of the fluctuations or the numbers that go against the advice given by articles from sources everywhere.
I’ve heard all of the following and have tried sometimes successfully most of them. Truth be told, it’s a whole ‘lotta luck and nerve…meaning that when you see a price that looks good to you and the research you’ve done (through guidebooks and fare history) BUY BUY BUY.
I do not do this. Mostly because I am always thinking it’s going to drop again but almost every time it does the opposite. Also, when booking too far ahead I’m always afraid plans will change and the flights I book are almost always non-refundable. But if you have saved up enough dough and are ready to take the plunge, go! Otherwise, here are the tips I’ve gathered and the sites I use most often.
When to purchase:
Day of the week: Tuesday
Time of day: Early morning or 3pm (the thought being that the “sales” go on sale Monday night and airlines compete come morning…this is sometimes accurate). Sometimes the prices aren’t necessarily lower but the flights are more convenient.
How Far Ahead:
My research has brought me to the conclusion that the further ahead you can book the better. I’m talking 6 months or so. But if that’s not possible, “they” say 12 weeks ahead is the sweet spot…though I’ve score sweet deals a month or so before.
When to Fly:
When you fly is perhaps the most important in scoring a sweet deal. Flay around with the +/- 3 days on Kayak but typically Tuesday or Wednesday departures are best.
I know, leaving on a Wednesday sucks. It cuts your trip short (you lose that extra weekend) and for some folks the time is just not worth the savings. But if you can take a few extra days off and make it happen, your wallet will thank you.
Friday or Saturday departure and Sunday or Monday return (what we’re trying to do) is the most expensive schedule.
Where to Fly (out of):
If you’re lucky enough to have a few International airports in your neck of the woods, take advantage even if it means a bit of extra hassle. This might mean more connections, longer layover time, and definitely a bit more in the way of transport to the airport. But if there is a significant savings, I say go for it.
Our home airport is Philadelphia…it’s 10 minutes by taxi from our house and oh, so amazing when returning from a 16+ hour voyage. However, I found that on our upcoming trip if we leave from Newark, NJ instead, we’ll save almost $300 EACH! That’s a huge savings that can pay for most of our vacation! Huzzah!
Where to Search
Walk past my desk at any given time and I’m on Kayak or Google’s explore technology, plotting my next adventure. There are websites that aggregate data from all over the web, tapping into and mixing multiple different flights to make your perfect flight. They then lead you to another website where you’ll actually book your site. Or else, you can jump around to the booking agents individually. Whatever suits your fancy.
Expedia.com <– Best seats/price for this trip.
It also pays to go to the airline itself (if sticking to one airline for the entire trip) since sometimes they are a bit cheaper!
PHEW. So there you have it, my process. As agonizing as it is, it’s also sort of fun in a sick sort of way. And nothing beats the rush of finally scoring a good deal!