Let’s face it. Many of us live for the next vacation or trip, whether to somewhere new and exciting, to a place that is an old favorite, or just going back home to visit family. Now that summer is just around the corner, when should you buy your ticket for the next trip?
Some people like to buy their ticket early to be sure of the best choice of flights and in the hopes that buying early will save money. Other people prefer to wait until closer to their trip in hopes of getting a last-minute deal.
CheapAir.com just published the results of their study of more than 1.3 billion airfares. The results include more than 8.000 popular destinations, so there is a good chance this information can help you plan your next trip on a budget.
According to CheapAir.com, the best time to buy your ticket for most domestic flights is 54 days before your trip. While each trip can be different, for most trips the best fares will be found between 21 and 112 days in advance.
The study found that most trips start off more expensive, then slowly come down in price. Closer to the date of the flight prices start to climb again, often by quite a bit. Airlines usually start selling tickets 335 days before the flight.
CheapAir.com categorized five zones to help travelers decide when the best time is to buy a ticket. They call the zones First Dibs, Peace of Mind, Prime Booking Window, Push Your Luck, and Hail Mary.
First Dibs: 113-196 days early. Booking this early provides the most options, but travelers can expect to pay an extra $50 on average.
Peace of Mind: 113-196 days early. Purchasing a ticket during this time frame still provides good options, but is $20 more expensive on average.
Prime Booking Window: 21-112 days early. This is the best window to find airfare bargains.
Push Your Luck: 14-20 days early. Prices can vary significantly during this time, ranging from great deals to very expensive. Popular routes are the least likely to yield a bargain.
Hail Mary: 0-13 days early. This option is reserved for the brave—or the gamblers. Aside from risking not being able to get a ticket at all, travelers who wait until the last days to buy a ticket pay on average $75-200 more. Still, good deals can sometimes be found.
You can start planning your next trip visiting the When to Buy Flights page at CheapAir.com. The tool not only provides the best fares, but includes a graph to illustrate how prices change over time.