The average airline ticket costs $359 — and that’s assuming it’s a domestic flight. Even for a destination a short distance away, you’ll pay over $700 for a round trip. International travel is an entirely different beast with bigger expenses.
The fact of the matter is travel costs can put a hamper on your vacation plans. They’re one of the most expensive components of travel expenses. But the good news is you can cut down airline prices without sacrificing speed or quality.
When’s the best time of day to book flights for the best price? And how else can you get cheaper airfare? Read on and discover plenty of ways to save big on your next air travel ticket.
1. The Best Time of Day to Book Flights
Airline tickets vary from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. If you know the pricing patterns, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
And that’s precisely why Skyscanner sought to find the best time to book flights. According to 2018 booking data, 6 a.m. is the cheapest time of day to purchase airline tickets.
Keep in mind that time zones exist. Their study was based on eastern standard time or EST. If you’re located under pacific standard time, 3 a.m. would be the best time to book a flight.
The difference matters. Tickets actually spike at around 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. This trend is most likely caused by shoppers booking last-minute trips.
2. The Best Day of the Week to Book Flights
While the time of day is a factor, it’s not the only catalyst for shifting airline prices. Ticket costs also change throughout the span of the week. So what’s the best day to purchase a ticket?
The Expedia Group and Airlines Reporting Corporation releases a joint report every year to help buyers save.
They discovered that, surprisingly, the weekend boasts the lowest booking prices of the week. Sunday offers better savings than Saturday. But how much do you stand to save, exactly?
If you buy tickets on Sunday, the cheapest day of the week, you’ll save between 20% to 37% compared to the most expensive day. That means you can shave over $130 off the cost of an average ticket. Not a bad discount just for booking on a certain day, right?
That said, they also discovered that Sunday is the most expensive day when it comes to booking hotels. Be sure to separate these two tasks to optimize your savings. Otherwise, you’ll be paying less for airline tickets but more for hotels.
For more information about the cheapest days to fly, check out this travel blog.
3. The Best Month to Book Flights
We’ve covered most of the time-sensitive agents that affect airline prices. But we haven’t yet touched on the months. The entire travel industry is notorious for raising and lowering prices based on the travel season.
Once again, it’s an opportunity to save big. Summer, Spring, and holiday months are very popular times to travel. Prices become more expensive to compensate.
But Summer may not extend as long as you’d think. While June is the most expensive time to book a flight, August is the cheapest. A two-month difference can result in some pretty noticeable price changes.
The time of the month isn’t as important as other time factors. Don’t feel like you have to wait until August for your vacation. There are other ways to save much more.
4. Advanced Booking
Another common talking point is how far in advance you should purchase your tickets. If you’re looking at domestic travel, anywhere from about 4 to 6 weeks is a comfortable starting point. Buy your tickets too late or too early, and you’ll be paying more than you have to.
But international travel is much different. It’s better to get your hands on these tickets almost 4 months in advance. The good news is you’ll have plenty of time to daydream about your international vacation once you’ve booked your trip.
5. The Best Day of Departure
You know that booking on Sunday is the superior choice. That said, the actual day of the flight matters, too. Most people fly on Friday or the weekend since it saves on vacation days.
But since these are popular days to enter the skies, they’re also more expensive. Try to aim for a takeoff day somewhere in the middle of the week. It comes at the cost of vacation days, but it’s not a bad choice if you’re looking at a surplus.
6. Saving While You Book
Here’s a final tip unrelated to temporal concerns. That price you see when you’re looking at the website? Yeah, that’s not the price, it’s your price.
Airlines use a special type of dynamic pricing that charges you more or less depending on demands in your area. By clearing your cookies or searching incognito, the price should change. Give it a try and see how much you can save.
For international trips, you can take this a step further. You can visit the regional website of the other country and try to buy the plane ticket there. If they let you, you stand to save due to currency conversion rates.
Booking a Flight for Cheap
Who knew buying a ticket could be so complicated? According to our data, the best time of day to book flights is 3 a.m. EST. For the cheapest tickets, you can find them in August, on Sunday, during this time.
While it’s a big hassle, there are big savings, too. Timing your purchase is well worth the work.
Looking for travel tips and other ways to save? Search our website for more.