Buy Your Airline Tickets On Tuesday at 3:15pm Six Weeks Before You Travel
We've all heard advice that sounds something like this, "If you book your flights on a Tuesday at 3:15pm exactly six weeks before your vacation, you will get the best possible pricing." Easy peasy, right? Hmmm...not so much. While advice like this abounds on the internet, it's not actually true. While you might actually get the best airfare at 3:15pm Tuesday six weeks before your trip, it's just a fluke. The formula isn't what saved your bacon (or your dollars). So, when is the best time to purchase airfare? It's really anybody's guess. While I'm sure there is some airline executive out there with a complicated algorithm for the perfect moment to buy plane tickets, the average consumer and even the most superhero travel agent is not privy to this information. Instead, we are left in a world of ever-shifting ticket prices trying to nab the best deal. The truth is, airfare fluctuates constantly based on the number of seats that have been sold, the prices the competition are charging and, I'm pretty sure whether or not the moon is in Aquarius. "Christine, WHEN SHOULD I BUY MY TICKETS?" I can't tell you for sure, but I can give you some tips based on my experience. I have to cover my you-know-what and tell you that none of these rules are hard and fast. Airfare is always a bit of a crap shoot, but here's what I have found over my years in this business: Don't buy too early. You've booked your trip 18 months in advance and you anxiously await the 10-month market (when flight schedules generally become available). The moment those schedules pop up, you buy those airline tickets. Well, you've probably paid more than you should. Remember, one of the factors for airline pricing is the number of seats available on the route across all airlines. So, until all airlines have released their schedules, you will likely pay a higher price because there are a fewer number of seats showing available. So, wait a bit. Generally, for domestic flights, 4-6 months before your trip is a good time to buy. All the airlines including the lower-cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue will have released their schedules and many airlines will release promotions for this time period as well. For international flights, you can safely book 6-8 months before travel. Compare apples to apples. More and more, airlines are giving travelers more "choice." By "choice" they mean that the airfare that they are advertising includes nothing, not even a carry-on bag. There can be fees for carry-ons, seat selection and, of course, checked bags. When comparing prices, be sure you are factoring in ALL the fees. Some airlines, like Allegiant, charge for every little thing while Southwest charges almost no fees. Compare apples to apples to get the best deal. Oh, and don't forget to factor in the airport. Many of the economy carriers like Allegiant and Spirit only fly into secondary airports and that can cost a lot more. Case in point, Orlando. Allegiant and Sprit only fly into Sanford instead of Orlando International. Transportation from Sanford to the Orlando theme parks can cost double or triple what it does from Orlando International. Be sure to factor in all the variables. Trust your travel agent. We are here to ensure that you get the best value for your vacation dollar. While we can't control airfare, we can ensure that you are making the most economical decisions when all factors are considered. Don't drive yourself crazy. Once you find a price that you are comfortable paying, book the flight. Then, stop looking at airfares. Yes, prices may drop but, even if they do, will not issue a refund. Remind yourself, that prices could just as easily have increased. The one notable exception to this is Southwest. If your airfare decreases after booking, Southwest will give you a credit in that amount to be used on a future flight. So, if you are booked with Southwest, keep checking. If you are booked on any other carrier, don't look. Booking airfare can be one of the most stress parts of traveling. Hopefully, these tips will help! Don't wait to start planning your next vacation! Let us plan the vacation of your dreams. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-833-8050. Happy Traveling!