When Should I Buy?
One of the most common questions I get from new travelers is "when should I buy my flight?" A lot of people have read strategy about certain days of the week and certain times of day that are better than others as far as pricing. I'm here to tell you that the majority of that is bullshit!
Flight prices are determined by a number of factors. The airline always sells its most expensive tickets immediately before the flight. This is to capitalize on business travelers with corporate expense accounts that simply cannot schedule that far out to save money. The sweet spot for buying flights seems to be 2-3 months out for best pricing. One exception to that rule is travel during the holidays. I recommend buying flights during the holidays around 6 months out.
Of course, if you're a frugal flyer, you've studied the route that you're going to buy and you understand what a good deal is. Frugal flyers are checking that route constantly and often make exceptions to the 2-3 month out window to save big bucks!
One mistake that people often make is buying the flight too far in advance. Airlines will commonly set a base rate for their furthest out flights (typically about a year in advance). While this might be advantageous for certain times (think, holidays), airlines will often put routes on sale to fill seats.
Another consideration is knowing which days of the week to fly. Generally, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The most expensive flights are Sunday, Monday and Friday. Again, this is because the airlines generally make the most money from business travelers (who typically travel Sunday evenings or Monday mornings). Another expensive ticket is the weekend travelers who flies out Friday afternoon and comes back Sunday night.
And finally, there are several websites that allow you to set fare alerts and study route information. Kayak offers one of the easiest alert systems for travelers to use. Simply enter your home airport and the destination and Kayak will send you push notifications or e-mails you daily with an update on your desired route. I saved a lot on a trip to Puerto Rico this way when I had very specific dates to fly to catch my cruise. Knowing when to buy is crucial for finding a frugal fare!