It’s often said that in order to net the best time to buy flight ticket, you have to do it on Tuesday. Is it true? If it’s not, then when is it? Read on to find out.
The aviation industry has taken a massive blow due to the pandemic. Now that everything is letting up, this is a great chance for the gallivanting souls to plan a dream journey. With that comes the hassle of travelling preparation, the most notable one of which is booking a plane ticket.
Image from Unsplash
There are tons of apocryphal stories that come with buying a plane ticket, but a popular one being that Tuesday is the day for cheaper tickets. Little did people know; stories are stories at the end of the day.
But then comes the age-old question. If not Tuesday, then when? Which day would be best for booking a ticket, if any? Which time of the day, even?
We’ve got the answer for you in this article. Furthermore, if you’re struggling to find the best deal on the market, then we’ve got you covered with some advice to save some bucks, or services to help you find cheap flights.
Cheapest Tickets Only on Tuesday! Myth Debunked Once and For All
The cat’s out of the bag. This is about common knowledge now, but there really is no “best day to book a plane ticket”, much less “Tuesday is the best day to book a plane ticket.” Moreover, this isn’t some hearsay running around the net, but it’s expert-confirmed knowledge.
Phil Dengler, founder of TheVacationer.com, said: “Despite many reports claiming Tuesday or Wednesday mornings are the best time to book flights, there is no evidence of that being true. Cheap flight prices are available 24/7, so you should not limit yourself to a particular day or time.”
He added: “Flight prices depend on complex algorithms, and the day of the week is not one of the factors.”
Cheapair.com, a website specialising in finding and offering cheap air tickets, reported in their 2021 study that on average, the discrepancies between low fares are about $1 regardless of the day of the week.
But then you may ask, is there any way I could get a better deal? There is, sort of. Let’s find out!
How to get the cheapest airline tickets?
Understanding “Fare Buckets”
Fare bucket is a concept used by airlines that we don’t (get to) know. Luckily, we have experts who are willing to help shed some lights on the matter. Willis Orlando, Product Operations Specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, provided some truth about this fare bucket thing.
“Airlines break their tickets up into classes—economy, basic economy, etc. But within each of those, they subdivide the tickets. All the tickets within basic economy are subdivided into ‘fare buckets. There’s a finite number of tickets in each fare bucket. So even in the same boarding “class,” there will be tickets of different prices. Airlines do this in an attempt to maximise revenue. They want to push out the cheapest tickets to leisure travellers, who will walk away if they don’t get a reasonable price, while holding other tickets, in the same fare class, at higher prices for people who are travelling for business, or whose jobs are footing the bill, but are maybe still travelling in economy,” explained Orlando.
If you find it confusing, essential, besides the configuration we know of, there are behind-the-scenes sub-categorizations that airlines used to ensure they squeeze as much money as they can out of passengers. Once a fare bucket has been “maxed out”, most airlines will “push your entire itinerary up to the next fare bucket, instead of giving you a few in the first and a few in the next,” according to Orlando.
Knowing the Time Frame to Buy
It’s no secret that generally, the earlier you book your ticket, the cheaper it will be. But exactly how early you should be booking your ticket?
10 – 6 months in advance
This is what is called the “safe zone”. If you decide to book your ticket this early in advance, then you’ll be guaranteeing a ticket that you want. This early on, you can freely choose seat, flight time, and type configuration. It is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet, if you will. With the perks comes the drawbacks. Booking a ticket so early in advance renders you liable to changes. Any changes in the itinerary could screw your plan and your ticket. But if you have a vacation set in stone next year, or if it’s an annual trip, then booking as early as this is the way to go.
6 – 3 months in advance
This is definitely still decently early, but around this time frame, you would have to compete with many more people to fight for the best deal. The price change isn’t too drastic, if any (though early birds’ sale will definitely be gone in this time frame). However, around this time frame is when people start to goggle airlines’ websites for the ideal ticket, so landing yours might just be more difficult. Still, this is a relatively safe time frame to book your business trip.
3 months – 3 weeks in advance
This is the hot hour zone where the vast majority of people will be aiming for. The reason is this is the perfect time for most people with an inexorable travelling plan to book their trip.
The reason stems from the correlation between prices and demands. As this is the time when most people would buy air tickets, air firms offer the best deal possible in order to maximise their sales. However, as this is most likely the busiest time, you should be bracing yourself for tons of competition if you want to buy the cheapest possible tickets, or else, you may have to sacrifice a bit of comfort here and there.
3 – 1 week in advance
If you have a plan to travel and somehow, you’re waiting this late, you’re really tempting fate. This late into the hunt for the best air ticket deal, you’re practically scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s a guarantee that you have to pay extra, as airlines understand the kind of desperation of those who fell into this time frame and take advantage of them. However, should you find yourself in this kind of situation, the best you can do is to quickly grab what you can and vanish as soon as possible.
Less than a week in advance
Even people who travel by train buy tickets earlier than this. Unfortunately, those who must buy a ticket within this time frame are those who do so out of necessity (family business, emergency circumstance, etc.). There is little to no things you can do in this situation, but to concede some obscenely extortionate prices. Our condolences!
Get Services to Help Net You the Best Deal
Hunting the best deal is definitely no easy task, and it’s not like everybody has got the time and the expertise to do so. One of the ways to combat this is to get yourself an app or a service which can help you do those tasks. Albeit you would have to pay a bit of front, in the grand scheme of things you’d save more than the expenses you’d have to incur otherwise.
Google Flights is an online flight booking search engine that makes it easier to buy airline tickets through third-party vendors. It was released by Google in 2011 after a buyout. Now, it has been merged into Google Travel. It’s free so don’t get your hopes up, but it does the job decently for those you know how to utilise it.
Its functions are fairly straightforward. You'll need to choose a specific route and travel dates, and Google will notify you when the price on that route changes. Unfortunately, you won't be able to book flights from a specific city to any destination as they become available, but you can track flights if you have precise plans and also check the price fluctuation.
KAYAK is a travel search app that functions not dissimilar to Google Flights, but is more refined and multifunctional, in that it can search the internet to find options on flights, hotels and rental cars.
It boasts a ton of functions to help you with your journey, totally for free. Price Alerts keeps track of flight and hotel pricing (through email or phone notifications) so you don't miss out on a good offer. Trips compiles all of your travel details into an itinerary that you can change and add to as you plan your trip. Explore will show you all of the places you can fly to for whatever amount of money. On top of that, add-ons like Flex Search (see if you can save money by being flexible with your travel dates), Private Deals (save even more on hotels and rental cars just by enrolling into KAYAK), and Price Forecast (can determine when to book or wait for a flight).
>> Read more: Best Websites For Flight Booking
Scott’s Cheap Flights
This is more of a specialised app with membership option for those who travel frequently. The free membership of Scott’s cheap flights, though, is pretty decent. With the free membership you’ll get international economy ticket notifications from up to five airports.
Image from Scott’s Cheap Flights
If you have the budget, we suggest upgrading to the premium membership, where you will receive notifications of the best flight deals from up to 10 airports for both domestic and international flights, all for $49 per year. If you can afford it, upgrade even further to the Elite membership, where you get the best of deals from as many US airports as you would like. The price is at $199 per year.