Timing Absolutely Matters
CheapAir.com conducted their own study in 2014 with 1.5 billion airfares and 4,986,522 trips, tracking the lowest ticket prices from 320 days in advance to 1 day in advance. What they found (shown in the graph below) was that the prime time to buy a plane ticket was anywhere between 27-114 days in advance.
Moral of the story here is to not wait for last-minute deals and to buy your ticket 1-4 months in advance. However, don’t buy your ticket too early either. Buying more than 80 days in advance showed to be non-advantageous. Even I was surprised by this piece of info.
The summer months are a little different, though, as noted in the article. Cheapair.com found that the best time to book a summer trip was around 76 days in advance. So ultimately for summer travel, the earlier the better. This also applies for the end of December & beginning of January because of the Christmas & New Year period.
For International travel the story is also different. Check out the map below.
On another note, the time of day also matters. Buying your ticket during busy hours of the day when the site is receiving most traffic will typically yield higher prices, rather than if you checked out the site during odd hours (such as 3am).
(Thank you Cheapair.com for the great info!)
The Magic of Tuesdays
A fellow redditor (@letmebehealthy) told me that browsing to buy your tickets on a Tuesday night tends to be much cheaper. With a little searching around, I found out that the reasons for this were pretty simple:
- Weekends are high traffic and most tickets are bought and sold out.
- Mondays are typically a restocking day.
- Tuesdays companies put out competitive prices to beat out competition.
As the week goes on, ticket prices go up again as the flights begin to sell out.
Additionally, flying out or flying in on a Tuesday or Wednesday is usually the cheapest, with ticket savings of anywhere between $20-$300 from my own experience. That’s because these aren’t peek days and most people fly during the weekend.
Set Your Browser to Incognito Mode
Now that you know when you should start checking for good prices, it’s best that you put your browser in Incognito mode. This will prevent the websites from tracking your search behaviour with cookies, which can at times drive the prices up specially for you. Pretty sneaky, right? What’s also important here is to not stick around too long. Close the browser and reopen it occasionally.
If you’re unsure of how to open up an incognito window, follow the steps in the tutorials linked below. (But check that out after, we’re not done!)
Here’s an awesome article by How To Geek http://www.howtogeek.com/269265/how-to-enable-private-browsing-on-any-web-browser/
Or Computer Hope’s article for phones & computers http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001378.htm
Incognito Mode Isn’t Enough?
If you are really on a mission to combat the price fluctuations from simply browsing, there’s a few further steps you could take:
- Browse on different computers
- Browse on multiple browsers
- Ask a friend or your SO to browse on their computer to compare prices
- Change your IP address
- Learn how to browse the web anonymously: https://pixelprivacy.com/resources/browse-web-anonymously/
Something a Little Simpler, Please?
Call the airline directly and ask for the price. At times this price is actually cheaper than what is listed online.
Now that you’re all set up, you can begin to actually look for tickets. Next week I’ll be posting the second part to this article with awesome little tips and tricks for finding the best places online to find cheap airfair. For now, comment below which sites your use to buy your tickets and we can see if they match up with mine next week!
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