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The Right Time to Buy a Cheap Flight

Two Myths Debunked and

Real Tips on How to Can Fly and Save

Many experts have opinions on when it is the best time to purchase a flight.  Their claim that Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET or that Sunday is the best day is based on some sample data, old assumptions and some reverse engineering.  These so called “experts” tout them as indisputable facts, but we know that they are just “Alternative Facts” and just soundbites.

The plain and simple truth is that airlines change prices all the time, there is no magic time to buy…but there are a few key tips that can save you hundreds next time you fly.

Let’s go over these “Alternative Facts” and find the reality

Myth #1:

The Claim: So-called airfare experts proclaim that if you “shop for a flight on Tuesday.  A lot of airlines file new fares and prices on Monday afternoon, and are usually matched by their competitors by Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET. “

The Facts:  Currently, airlines use automated systems focused to get the most money out of each ticket called “Yield Management.”  Because of that price can change several times a day, every day.  When a lot of people want a specific route or date, prices may go up…and when there is lower demand, the system can lower the price. Before, it took a human to manage the system, and now that software is much more agile, it takes much less human interaction.  We wonder if these so-called experts ever worked at an airline.

 Myth #2:

The Claim: Analyst have comb through recent data and found that the cheapest day to buy is Sunday.

The Facts:  These guys only reviewed a small slice of all the fares available, and the fares they saw were most likely purchased by business travelers in the U.S.  Most business travel is done (and purchased) Monday through Friday.  Because of that, the data that they analyzed has a high probability of being skewed towards that pattern…and of course it could show that on a day that most of the business travelers do not buy a ticket you may find a cheap ticket.  It is true that you will find some great prices on Sundays, but you may also find great prices any other day of the week. 

Real Ways to Find Cheap Flights

If you are flying domestic or to a neighboring country, when should you shop?.

Start shopping minimum 21 days before your flight.  The airlines use a standard advance purchase (AP) schedule to increase (or decrease) their pricing, and often change fares according to these set days.  You can usually purchase flights 330 in advance, but prices change often 21, 14, 7 and 3 days and on the day of travel.

When should you shop or buy flights to Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East:?

Start shopping 2 months before, and buy 30 to 26 days before your departure. 

When to shop or buy your ticket to the Caribbean or Central America?

Start shopping at least a month before, and buy 24 to 14 days before your departure.

Is there a trick to buying a last minute ticket?

As the departure date nears, tickets usually go up.  Most airlines have a few tickets that they hold back for last minute business travelers who often buy 7 days or less before their flight.  In certain cases, you may see the highest price for a flight 3 days before the flight, and drop – there is lower than expected demand – 1 day before departure. 

Three key points in finding a cheap flight

  1. Prices change, so make sure you are searching every day.
  2. Though fares are available 330 days before your flight, the best prices on most flights will be available between two months and 21 days before departure.
  3. Always be flexible. You may save a bundle if you fly less desirable days, including Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and on public holiday dates (i.e. 4th of July Day, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day.)  Business travelers love to fly in on Monday and fly back home on Thursday evening or Friday. If you are traveling with kids, and you are flying during school time, you will want to leave Friday afternoon and return on a Sunday afternoon.

We hope that these tips will save you plenty, so you can #GoFlyMore

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