Travellers that fly regularly has come to learn when to buy the cheapest flight tickets. They have the experience and by flying regularly they come to learn the little tricks of obtaining the cheapest flights. What if you are not a regular traveller and your budget is limited?
As many travellers, that have bought flight tickets, has found, buying cheap flights can be quite the gamble. Buying a ticket too soon, you might miss out on the specials that airline carriers announce before your flight date. If you buy your flight ticket too late, you might end up paying more than you would a week ago. Not even to mention the chances that flights are sold out before you have a chance to book your flight.
It would be great if flight prices would be as buying anything else: the price stays the same no matter when you flight tickets. Unfortunately, flight tickets is a unique market and is like playing the stock market.
Flight ticket prices fluctuate on a constant basis. This constant fluctuation is primarily due to demand and supply. If there’s a higher demand for flights on a specific day or time of year, the flight ticket prices increase. When the demand is low, prices are lowered to make flights on days with low demand more attractive.
Luckily, a study conducted by CheapAir, has found the best day to book the cheapest flights. According to their findings, the best day, generally, to book your flight is 54 days before your flight date.
Please remember that it is not set in stone as many factors influences ticket prices.
If you have missed the 54-day window, there is an alternative time to buy the cheapest flight tickets. The best time to get alternative flight tickets are between 112 and 21 days before you take your trip. According to CheapAir this period, called the “prime booking window”, flight prices are at their lowest.
Most travellers believe the myth that they will be able to get the cheapest flights if they book last minute flights. According to CheapAir this is absolutely a wrong believe and just that, a myth.
CheapAir.com spend a year to analyse about 3 million trips and their flight ticket prices. The test started about 320 days before and ended a day before their departing date. The results are astounding and divided into 5 “windows”.
1. The “First Dibs” Window (197 – 335 days)
Most airlines start to sell seats on their flights about 335 days into the future. Generally, ticket prices are high when they are opened but prices tend to come down as time goes by. There’s quite a few pros for booking tickets in this window. You will have the option of choosing between a wide range of flight options. During this window you can book direct flights to your destination and can choose to fly at any specific time. Seat selection is also quite easy as you have dibs on the best seats available. Most window and aisle seats are available without costing you more. Ticket prices are on average about R800 more than the “Prime Booking Window”.
2. The “Peace of Mind” Window (113 – 196 days)
The “Peace of Mind” window is ideal for travellers that want peace of mind of knowing their flights are booked in advance. Tickets during this window averages about R320 more than the “Prime Booking Window”. The pro for paying this small amount more, is that you generally have more flight options to choose from.
3. The “Prime Booking Window” (21 – 112 days)
This is the ideal window for bargain hunters as this is the sweet spot to buy flight tickets. Conducting tests annually, CheapAir has found that this time window has been quite consistent. As a traveller, you must understand that prices still fluctuates daily during this window. It is not a fact that you will be able to buy the cheapest flight on any random day. Check flight prices regularly, during this window, as the cheapest flights might pop-up unexpectedly.
4. The “Push Your Luck” Window (14 – 20 days)
Flight prices during this window can go either way. During this window flight prices can go through the roof or even go as low as prices offered in the “Prime Booking Window”. These flight prices are dependent on the popularity of your destination and travel time. The rule of thumb here is that the more popular your destination and flight time, the less lucky you will be to find the cheapest flights.
5. The “Hail Mary” Window (0 – 13 days)
To make a reference to rugby, the “Hail Mary” window can be described as the end whistle blowing, but the ball is still in play and your favourite rugby team tries to get that winning try. In many cases, they end up losing the match and you are left bitter and frustrated. This is also true when searching for the cheapest flights in this window. Ticket prices can cost about R3 200 more than the “Prime Booking Window” if you buy them about 7 days before your flight date. To increase frustration, you will have to choose a time that doesn’t suit your travel plans and a seat position you don’t want. You can expect to pay at least R1 200 more for your flight ticket when booking a flight 7 – 13 before.
Last minute flights are a myth and you shouldn’t believe that they are a “give away”. Many people have tested it out and it always ended bad for them.
So, if you hunting for the cheapest flight tickets, keep checking prices during the “Prime Booking Window”. You will surely find the cheapest flights.