While setting off on a vacation is typically a relaxing experience, booking travel can actually be quite stressful. Among the many reasons for this revolves around the ever-changing prices of airline tickets. Unlike most retail situations where items go on sale, return to normal price, and eventually come back down (or sell out), if you miss out on buying your flight at the right time, you could end up spending way more. So when is the right time to buy?
According to a study by CheapAir and reported by Business Insider, the absolute best time to book your flight is exactly 54 days before your travel. The logic behind this assertion is that prices tend to start dropping around 105-day mark but will start rising again as time drew nearer, spiking significantly 20 days out. In fact, one example cited by Business Insider found a $400 flight fall to $344 on 54 days in advance. If you’re curious, that flight would go on to reach $593.
Another bit of advice offered is to book your flights on Tuesday. This is apparently when airlines release sales, allowing you to take advantage of their competing prices — although it’s unclear if the 54 day rule trumps this tip in the event that day doesn’t fall on a Tuesday. In any case, it usually helps to fly at off-peak times like early mornings on weekdays.
Admittedly I’m slightly skeptical of this study for a couple of reasons. For one, while I do believe 54 days out is a good rule of thumb, I feel it also depends on the airline. For example, I recently reviewed my experience on Allegiant Air, which offers some truly low base fares but charges for additional services. Just by sampling a few dates they have available, I can see that prices only go down to a certain point, leaving me little reason not to simply book now. That said, if these fare floors aren’t as obvious, 54 days does sound about right to me.
Of course, if your travel dates are set in stone and it’s imperative you get the flights you need, perhaps it’s best to just choose a price you’re willing to pay and forgo fretting about falling prices. Ultimately, planning your getaway should be exciting, not stressful. Besides, there are plenty of other ways you can save money on your travels to help make up the difference.
Also published on Medium.