If you’re a frugal flier with an eye for a bargain, chances are you’ve wondered about the best time to book flights. And there’s no shortage of rumors on how to play the system. But does clearing cookies, using incognito mode and searching for flights on the stroke of midnight really unearth the deal of the century?
Still, while those mythical timing hacks aren’t true, there are plenty of clever ways to save money when booking flights.
The cheapest days to fly
While the time you book generally doesn’t have an impact on price, the actual day of the flight can affect it significantly.
Essentially, it’s an issue of supply and demand. Mondays, Fridays and Sundays are the most common travel days – business travelers and families will be leaving or returning – hence higher prices. So, try to book flights on days with less demand – Tuesday is said to be the cheapest day to fly, followed by Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Booking in advance
It might be tempting to think that the best deal is the one booked furthest in advance, but it doesn’t always work that way. Even though airline schedules are posted a year ahead of time, it’s best to book 1-4 months beforehand.
When it comes to the holiday season, earlier is definitely better. Aim for 2 months in advance, as airlines release the cheapest seats first. You might also be tempted to nab those last-minute flights. But these tickets are generally more expensive, reserved for business flyers who will pay the extra price for a specific flight out of necessity.
The cheapest month to fly
Generally, the cheapest month to fly is January – just after the holiday season. People are back at work, kids are back at school, and demand is low. It’s also the time of the year when airlines publish their sale prices for the year ahead.
It’s not just January, though. Keep an eye out for ‘shoulder seasons’ – the periods just before and after major festivities and peak periods. This is generally during May, September and November, when flights could be as much as 23% cheaper. Different destinations have different shoulder seasons though, so do your research.
The cheapest time of day to fly
This is how the early birds and night owls manage to find those gems. Because flying when demand is low – very early in the morning (before 8 am) or late at night (after 10 pm) – is generally far cheaper than at any other time of day.
However, don’t inconvenience yourself for the sake of a small saving. Factor in pre-dawn or after-hours travel to and from the airport – if it’s going to cost a lot or bring extra stress, it might not be worth it.
Don’t wait on a deal
Decide on your target dates and monitor fares for a few weeks: if prices drop below what you had anticipated spending, you might be tempted to wait a little longer for the price to go down even further.
But there’s more chance you’ll lose out by holding back. Searching often will mean a better chance of snagging a really unbelievable deal, but these are rare, and you can’t count on them. So if you’re set on specific dates, it’s best to strike while the deal is hot.
Do your research and utilize smart booking platforms
The most important hack to use in conjunction with all of the above? Do your research!
Cut-price tickets might seem great at face value, but they can end up being a false economy. The cheapest flight isn’t always the best deal – there might be hidden baggage fees, for instance. Then, consider amenities such as in-flight food, WiFi options and whether the airport facilities can cater to your needs. Transport’s a big one too – do the public transport timings line up with your flight times?
While doing your research, be sure to utilize an innovative booking platform like Volario. Its unique algorithm allows you to seamlessly book any variation of routes, connections and airlines while combining multiple short and long-haul flights. The result of all this choice? A much higher chance of finding that hidden gem of a good deal.
So, there’s definitely no magic formula when it comes to the precise time to actually book your tickets. Instead, it’s all about being flexible with dates and times, doing your research and taking a deal when it comes along.
And if you follow each of the points above, you’ll find amazing deals to some wonderful destinations. Happy traveling!