Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheap Flights Revisited: When to Book

There are a few eternal questions for travelers: Is the water safe to drink? Did I forget to pack something? Should I buy plane tickets now or risk waiting for cheaper fares?

The answers are: No (if you have to ask, then you'll probably feel better not drinking it), Of Course, and I Have No Idea. Luckily does after reviewing a few hundred million fares (poor interns), as reported by Yahoo! Finance.

The site found that purchasing tickets 49 days in advance was optimal for domestic flights, while 81 days was best for international flights. Of course these numbers comes with all sorts of caveats (like purchasing too far in advance may be pricier, and the optimal time may vary according to a variety of factors like booking for a holiday period.)

Naturally there's no definitive answer, but it's nice to have a rough guideline. The article also mentioned that booking on a Tuesday or Wednesday didn't necessarily translate to saving money, which contradicts advice offered elsewhere, as discussed in my previous post.

A good strategy seems to be figuring out what you think is a reasonable, or at least affordable, price, picking up the tickets for that amount or as close to it as possible, and then not comparing prices with your seat mates so you can avoid post-purchase envy and frustration. And don't forget to check in advance whether can save you money if the price of your flight drops after you've already bought tickets.

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Gotta Gettaway by Josh Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.