Some people believe that bagging an 'unbelievable deal' on a plane ticket comes down to sheer good luck. Not so. There is, in fact, a myriad of relatively dependable factors that help you pinpoint the best time to book a flight, be it domestic or abroad.
First up, here are a few things you should know about flight tickets and the yo-yo journey they experience throughout the year.
Fights go on sale a year in advance – Flight tickets go on sale 12 months in advance. Although securing your bum-on-seat early is a good idea, there is such a thing as too early. You certainly don't want to buy a ticket for a flight departing in 364 days. You also wouldn't want to wait until four days before departure if you want to get the best price.
Fight ticket prices are driven by demand – Nothing about flight tickets is static. Traditionally, prices have only been influenced by straight-up demand, but, in the last two years, they have also been driven by the pandemic. The demand, in other words, has been even more predictable than usual. Australians who booked flights to Europe in the last month will know how much prices have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines knew demand would hit the roof when the government announced it would ease mask mandates and border restrictions. They priced their new flight tickets accordingly.
Nevertheless, there is an ideal timeframe to book the cheapest flights – Pandemic conditions notwithstanding, the tried-and-tested timeframe for booking the most affordable flight still holds. Generally, the best time to book flights is between three and six weeks before departure.
In more detail:
- Close to three weeks before departure for domestic flights
- Close to six weeks before departure for international flights
The latest insights published by Google have confirmed as much. They've also added a few more stellar tips to compound the savings, which we'd love to share:
Fly at the beginning of the week
The most expensive tickets are for flights departing Thursday to Sunday, so choose your flight day accordingly.
Have time? Choose a layover
Direct, non-stop flights are the most expensive of all. Add a layover, extend your travel time and save a few extra pennies.
Most travellers want to get from A to B in the shortest time possible. Choose the longest round-around flight, and you will save a considerable amount.
Book as soon as you're ready
For years, we've been told that booking flights on Tuesdays led to considerable savings. In reality, waiting for next Tuesday might end up costing you more.
Remember that when it comes to the best time to book flights, departure day is far more important than booking day!
Travelling in peak time? Book even earlier!
The timeframe for booking flights at their cheapest price (three to six weeks) doesn't quite hold if you're planning to travel at peak times. That would be summer in Europe or Christmas in the Caribbean or Mexico.
Booking flights to popular vacation destinations at the most idyllic time of year means the cheapest tickets are found around eight weeks before travelling.
The Skyscanner 'monthly' tab is your friend
Flight apps can help you find the cheapest flying time. Skyscanner is one of the best, offering a 'view by month' that shows the exact days and times of the month when tickets are at their cheapest.
Here's how to search flight prices across a whole month on Skyscanner.
Last-minute flights can be cheap as long as you're flexible
The most significant caveat to the 'last-minute flights are never cheap' philosophy is that they can be if you're flexible when it comes to the destination. If you'd love an adventure and wish to get away at the last minute, when anywhere will do, you might bag a great deal!
Travel Carry-on Only
Aside from the fact that it can help you avoid lost and misplaced luggage, travelling only with a carry-on can also save you money at the flight ticket checkout. Here's what you should have in your carry-on to ensure you have all you need, no matter where you're heading!
Have you booked a flight recently and were surprised at the price you had to pay? Comment below and let us know where and when you're travelling!