The Best Time to Book Flights for Cheap

Getting the cheapest flights doesn’t have to be headache. While you’ve probably heard a number of strategies, some of them based on past success and others total mumbo-jumbo, its 2019, so we found you a strategy that’ll work.

a large passenger jet flying through the air on a cloudy day: Apply the right strategy, and you’ll be paying local fares to see the world

We spoke with Scott Keyes Scott’s Cheap Flights to find the best strategy.

Forget the “Tuesday Night” Myth

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“There is no single best time or predictable time that it is going to be cheapest. People will tell you there is a best time or day to book flights, like Tuesday night. But its just not true.

“When airfare started to be sold online 20 some years ago, airlines would load their airfares online once a week, lets say Tuesday at 1 pm. They would have a number of cheap seats available and if you were one of the first ones searching for flights right after they loaded them you could the cheaper ones.

“But that hasn’t been true for a long time. Now, airfare isn’t just changing by the week, it’s changing by the day, by the hour, sometimes by the minute. It’s much more algorithmically driven. The upshot is that cheap flights can pop up any time.”

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

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“Airfare used to be slashed in the last few weeks before a flight, but now it skyrockets. People who are booking last-minute flights don’t tend to be leisure travelers. They tend to be business travelers who don’t know about a meeting ’til late. Their boss or company is paying for the flight, so they don’t care about the price. The airline will actually make more money if they jack up the price for the business traveler and have a few empty seats.”

Buy Domestic 1-3 Months Out, and International 2-8 Months Out

“That’s when cheap flights are most likely to pop up. Not all flights will be cheap, but those windows are when cheap flights are most likely to pop up.”

But Don’t Book Too Early

“Flights are one of the few things that you pay for well before you use. Change and cancellations fees are so expensive, it doesn’t make sense to buy a 10 months out because then you are missing out on any future drops in price.”

Get Creative With the Last Mile

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“Rather than flying directly to somewhere, get somewhere nearby and solve the last mile problem separately. It might be $1,000 to fly to Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, but $350 to get to London. An expensive flight from London to Dublin might be around $100. You’ll end up paying $450 overall to fly to London then Dublin, rather than $1,000 to book a single itinerary.

“Plus, you can spend time in London along the way if you want to. Some places in Europe you can just take a train.”

Be Ready To Pay More During “Peak Times”

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“If you’re looking to travel during peak time (middle of summer, Christmas, New Year’s), add a few months to the 1-3 and 2-8 month recommendations. Give yourself as much a buffer as possible, there are a lot of people looking. Increase your mental threshold for what you’re willing to pay, you won’t see the prices you see to Paris in January in June.

“I tell people to book opposite season. When you’re opening Christmas present, think about your summer flights. At the 4th of July barbecue think about where you want to be traveling on Christmas.

“And if you’re flexible with location, and timing, you’re always going to get cheaper flight flights.”

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