When to Buy Airline Tickets and More Travel Advice

Want to find cheapest available flights every time you shop? FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney shares his best money-saving tips.

Rick’s Top 5 Tips to Save on Every Flight

Tip #1: Shop for domestic airfare Tuesdays at 3pm eastern

According to FareCompare’s database of current and historical airfares (one of the world’s largest), airfare pricing trends show the best day to shop is Tuesday. Here’s why:

An airline will typically kick off an airfare sale late Monday.

  • Other airlines join in to stay competitive
  • Price matching is usually complete by early Tuesday afternoon
  • Newly discounted airfares hit reservation systems by 3pm eastern

LISTEN:  Rick Seaney tries to decide which is his very best tip.

However, deals can and do pop up at other times; how can you find them without chaining yourself to your computer? Easy; let FareCompare do the work for you.

Tip #2: Sign up for FareCompare real-time airfare alerts

The simple action of signing up for airfare alerts means you’ll be notified, instantly of any price drops on trips you want to take. With real-time alerts, you’ll know the moment the cheapest flights are available, and being first in line to get the best dealsis how you win the airfare game.

Tip #3: Don’t buy airline tickets earlier than 3 ½ months before departure

Airlines don’t begin actively “managing” prices until three or four months before departure, and if you buy earlier than that, chances are good you’ll pay too much.

Did you know? Airlines typically have as many as 10 different prices points on a single plane. Knowing when to buy and when not to buy is key to getting cheap plane tickets.

Don’t buy too early, but don’t buy too late, either.

Tip #4: Airfare prices can rise dramatically within 14 days of departure

When it comes to most legacy carriers (which include American, Delta, United and US Airways),  airfare prices can rise dramatically inside the 14-day before departure window; with discount or low cost airlines, that window is usually 7 to 10 days before departure. This is to take advantage of the last minute  business traveler who often doesn’t know his/her travel schedule much in advance and is willing to pay higher prices.

Shop for airfare and buy it before this two week window, and save.

Tip #5: The cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday

Most people want to squeeze as much time out of a vacation as possible which is why flights on Fridays and Sunday are so popular. However, the airlines know this and they usually charge more for flights on those days.

The cheapest days to travel are the least popular days to fly: Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Fly these days and you’ll almost always save on airfare.

At FareCompare, that’s what we’re all about: helping you win the airfare game.

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Published: April 22, 2010