When to Book for the Best Fare

There are two times of year when people tend to do the most traveling: summer and the Holidays. The summer travel season is winding down, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s been a while since we’ve given you any tips regarding booking, and we thought we’d take advantage of this (relatively) slow time of the year for travel to try and shed some light on booking tips you may or may not have heard.

Before we continue, a caveat: Tips regarding the best time to book a flight are sketchy at best. Airlines don’t freely tell you (or us) when they’ll be publishing their lowest fares. Of course, right?

One theory as to when you should book your flight is to do it on a Friday. It is often speculated airlines may reduce fares on Friday afternoon. It is true that some airlines have dropped fares on Friday, but others have increased on the same day. There is a lot of experimentation involved in setting prices for flights. Airline A will change things up to see if other airlines will follow suit.

People who aren’t in the Friday camp suggest that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best times to book for the best price. Traditionally, the middle of the week is the least expensive for travel, so why not for booking as well? Using the mid-week lull to boost ticket sales does seem like a viable ploy for the airlines to incorporate, and you may well find a great fare on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Others suggest that if your travel plans are flexible enough, the best thing to do is keep your bags packed and get last-minute tickets on the day of travel. True, this may allow for an incredibly low fare, with airlines struggling to fill empty seats, it’s not a good way to plan a vacation. In fact, there’s no room for planning at all.

Probably the most popular philosophy regarding getting the best fare is book in advance, the farther the better. The most common suggestion is book three weeks (21 days) in advance. The idea is, the airlines will offer lower fares well in advance in order to fill the seats as soon as possible. It’s true, many airlines use some sort of cycle to determine at what point to create price breaks and hikes. The 21 day schedule may often have an increase at 14 days, again at 7 days, and then around 3-4 days.

As we mentioned at the top, airlines aren’t too keen on telling everyone when to buy tickets for the lowest fare, but they do keep their repeat passengers in mind when dolling out specials. The best way to stay on top of airfare and get the best deals, more often, is to sign up for the airlines’ newsletters. The Northwest Florida Regional Airport newsletter keeps you updated with things that are going on at the airport, likewise airline newsletters will keep loyal customers up to date with offers that are often not available to the non-subscribing public.

Our advice, plan ahead and sign up for e-newsletters and specials from your favorite air carriers. Also, try to stay at your destination for a minimum of three nights and over a weekend, if possible.

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