For cheap flights, book 54 days ahead
NEW YORK — Booking a flight is often confusing, annoying and frustrating. Prices fluctuate so frequently that most vacationers can't tell whether they are getting a good deal.
So when is the best time to book a flight? One travel site dug through the data and has an answer: 54 days in advance. But there are plenty of caveats.
Airlines use sophisticated computer programs to analyze booking trends and constantly change prices to get the most money out of each flight. That's why two passengers in the same row might have paid vastly different fares, depending on when they booked. Complicating matters is a bevy of fees added to help the airlines offset higher jet fuel prices.
For a study published in February, booking site CheapAir.com looked at millions of trip combinations, searching as far as 320 days in advance to one day prior to departure and every possible day between. That's 1.3 billion airfares. The result: 54 days in advance was the best time, on average, to buy domestic tickets. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, however.
Airfares to popular vacation destinations tend to go up sooner. So flights to Phoenix, San Diego, Orange County, Calif., as well as Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Pensacola and Orlando were cheapest 75 days in advance, according to CheapAir's study. For Las Vegas, it was 81 days, and for airports in Hawaii it was 87 days.
Confused yet? That's why CheapAir tried to simplify things and develop a more-general rule: The prime booking window is 29 to 104 days before departure.
The formula is completely different for those peak travel periods when everybody wants to fly. So, if you still haven't booked your flights to Europe for this summer, forget about it. The best time to buy those, according to ChaeapAir, was a whopping 319 days in advance.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Corporate missteps hurt reputations, profits, sometimes in long run
- If you get this letter from the IRS, it’s legitimate
- Tourists rush to visit Cuba before American influence felt
- Home appraisal is below sales price — now what?
- Venting online about job protected
- France plane crash victim’s father calls for airlines to focus on pilot welfare
- Farmers fund research on gluten-free wheat
- Heinz merging with Kraft in mega-deal; headquarters to stay in Pittsburgh
- Stafford: Hirers bemoan wasted time with some applicants
- One secret Facebook doesn’t want you to know
- Komando: Boost cellphone signal when nixing landline