Planning your summer holiday? Time your booking right and save thousands of rupees on your flights.
Travellers often swap theories on the right and wrong time to book a flight –the lowest fares are on Tuesdays at 1500 hours or Wednesday at 1300 hours. You need to book at least two months before you fly. No, you should look for a deal and fly at the last minute! Same with the industry experts who have been speculating about basic timing factors in finding the lowest airfares. So far, nobody has been able to come up with definitive answers that has stood the test of time for very long. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. There are numbers-based guidelines touted by travel experts. And there are tools and data that can help you ascertain the right time to buy.
How far in advance should I book my flight?
Several sources publish data on the correlation between advance purchase period and airfares. The ideal time to buy a domestic ticket is 54 days in advance, says an online travel company CheapAir, or seven weeks ahead, says another company Expedia, which are essentially the same findings. For international trips, the ideal period is 171 days ahead of departure, according to the same Expedia report. CheapAir refines the estimates: 96 days before trips to Europe and 96 days in advance for Latin America. Avoid booking too early and too late. Too late is especially bad; you pay a huge premium for buying within a week or two of departure – even on airlines that nominally assess no advance-purchase limit.
What time of day should I book my flight?
According to a frequent traveller, you should buy on Tuesday mornings because airlines dump new fares and seat allocations on Monday nights. It is also rumoured that travellers shouldn’t buy on weekends, as consumers lap up the seats allocated to the lowest fare buckets on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving less low-priced inventory.
However a blog stated: “To say that there is one time of the day or one day of the week that is better than another is false. Plus, fares are so dynamic, since they are based on market conditions and the actual number of passengers who are currently booked on a specific flight that they can change rapidly at any time.”
When do plane tickets go on sale?
The best time to buy an airline ticket is when it is on sale; that means you have to stay on top of the airline marketplace. Typically, the purchase window is short–sometimes just one day, often a few days to a week–but the sale fares are usually good for a month or more. With some airlines, you can cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking at no charge. Even if you’ve already bought your fare, you can keep looking for a better offer within that 24-hour window.
How do I stay on top of fare sales?
Unless you enjoy the prospect of spending much of every day searching airline, the best way to keep on top of airfare sales is to subscribe to one or more airfare alerts. You have a range of choices like skyscanner. In addition, many individual airlines and metasearch systems offer airfare alerts or promotional bulletins. You can get fare alerts directly from your favourite carrier. Many airlines offer weekly or periodic email notifications of special sales and other useful information. It is a good idea to set up alerts from an airline with which you frequently fly.
WHEN WE BUY
32 days – The average advance-purchase time for domestic flights
59 days – The average advance-purchase time for international flights
WHEN WE SHOULD BUY
57 days – The ideal advance-purchase time for domestic flights
171 days – The ideal advance-purchase time for international flights