A few months ago, I gave up my apartment in favor of traveling the country instead. As a result, I've been flying a lot — which means that I've also heard a lot of ideas about when to buy plane tickets in order to get the best deals. The trouble is, a lot of the conventional wisdom floating around out there conflicts with itself: You should book two months in advance for the best prices! Make sure you guy your tickets on a Tuesday! No, on a Wednesday! Stick to afternoons, EST! Always use discounted services to purchase your tickets! No, go directly through the airline! Well, which is it? Possibly none of them — new research might have you throwing all these so-called money-saving tips out the window.
Expedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation recently released a study on 2015 flying trends, in which they examined what the best times to purchase airline tickets are. In their research, they examined data from the International Air Transport Association, the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, Diio Mi, and the ARC in order to see whether there was an optimal timeframe in which to buy your tickets — and if so, what it is.
Their results were fairly extensive, considering all the possible aspects that go into buying: Day of the week, time of day, time until the flight, and price by destination. Here are three of the biggest takeaways from the study — things to keep in mind when you plan your next flight!
1. We're Buying Tickets Too Late
The study found that the average consumer buys tickets for a domestic flight 32 days prior to takeoff and 59 days in advance for international trips. However, the study also determined that we should be buying tickets 57 days out domestically for the best prices and a whopping 171 days out for our trips across the pond. Passengers who booked early — that is, at least three weeks prior to departure — saved an average of $195 to $225, which is a pretty large chunk of change. The lesson here is to try to book about eight weeks out for flights in-country and about half a year before your international trips.
2. Booking Last Minute Isn't Going To Save You Much
Another piece of conventional wisdom says you can save big if you book at the very last minute. This can be true, but only under certain conditions. The report found that certain destinations have a high rate of last-minute savers, including Hawaii, Atlanta, and New York. But, if you're not traveling to one of these destinations, your best bet is to book your flight as a part of a package deal that includes a hotel or rental car — if you do, you'll save an average of $540 on your trip. So if you're booking last minute, do it all in one fell swoop to save.
3. Tuesday Is The Best Day To Book
It turns out that Tuesday is indeed the best day of the week to book travel, so conventional wisdom holds right. The report examined both domestic and international flights, flights sold as part of hotel packages, round trip, and one-way tickets in order to get the most accurate data on this one. But don't get too excited yet; it turns out that the Tuesday savings are pretty marginal. "Expedia experts determined that booking on a Tuesday with at least three weeks’ notice offers an average savings of just more than five percent, or $28 — a slightly better proposition than booking the same tickets (with the same amount of lead time) on Wednesdays or Thursdays," they wrote in their report.
Are you going to use this advice the next time you book travel? Don't be afraid to get creative and be flexible. You might not enjoy waking up at 3 a.m. to go to the airport, but why pay an extra $50 for a later flight when you don't have to?