When is the best time to book a flight?


Somehow, over the course of my endless babbling on about travel this and travel that, my friends and family think I have the inside scoop on the best times to book flights, and I always end up with the unwanted “privilege” of helping them buy.

There’s no shortage of theories out there on when the deals are best: Tuesdays, always Tuesdays because the sales go up on Mondays. No, Monday is best but it has to be at some off-peak time like 4:00 a.m. Also, don’t search too many times from the same computer because they (they as in the powers that control flight prices, whoever that technically is) will know you really want it and you’ll never see the deal.

So what’s really true?

To be honest, I have no idea. And if everyone else is honest, they probably have no idea either.

Expedia, however, took some time to dive into their data and some from the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and put what they found in a report on travel trends.

What they said—apart from the fact that flights to Europe are the best bargains this year—was a bit of a letdown at first: “It is hard to predict the best day of week to find the lowest ticket prices because airlines constantly are adjusting prices. If you find a fare that seems like a good deal, buy it.”

Yes, that should have been followed by a womp womp, I agree.

But if you read on, they tell you airfares fall the most in July and August, which seems odd since that’s when most of the world wants to go somewhere, but good to know.

It also turns out buying early is the best bet, despite what people say about the best deals popping up at the last minute (the people who say that are probably procrastinators anyway). Travelers, according to Expedia, can save anywhere from 20 percent to 31 percent, depending on the destination, on tix they snag at least 21 days in advance.

The best best time to buy, for travel in North America, though, is two months (or 57 days if you want to get exact) ahead of when you want to fly. If you’re in Europe and want to buy a ticket for travel within Europe, you’re looking at 140 days ahead for the best rates.

Now, let’s get down to which day is the right day to click the buy button.

Believe it or not, Sunday showed the cheapest economy fares of all the days of the week and nearly all of the regions in the world. The next cheapest day to buy? Saturday.

So there goes all that talk about weekends being bad days to book travel.

Friday was pretty much the worst day to purchase a plane ticket no matter where in the world you’re going, so stick to consuming hard-earned beverages on Fridays and not planning trips.

Final tip? Booking bundles (air, hotel, rental car, whatever) looks like it can save as much as 20 percent on your total spend, so something to keep in mind.

The best news from the report, though, was that the price of airfare is trending downward, which means now is as good a time as any—actually, a better time—to go wander somewhere.