Hunting for the right plane ticket these days can be an ordeal, equal parts strategy and guesswork. For most of us, it’s more art than science.
Fortunately, we just got a lot more science to offset the art.
The good folks over at Expedia have just released a study on when you should buy your next plane ticket.
Using data from Airline Reporting Corporation, Expedia determined that “while it’s impossible to guarantee when travellers can find the lowest fares, buying at least two months in advance for domestic travel and six months in advance for international travel puts you in the best position to get a good deal.”
In some cases those “good deals” could translate into significant discounts.
According to the travel website, the average price of an international ticket is $US1368. However, if you purchase your tickets anywhere between 150 and 225 days prior to the flight, prices are likely to be more than $US300 below average. Very cool!
The sweet spot within that window is 171 days before travel. On that day, the average price of an international ticket is down to just $US1004 — a savings of $US364.
Granted, these savings require you to buy your ticket a ridiculous amount of time in advance. Six months later — by the time you travel — you may not even like your travel companions anymore. However, if you’re an early planner, these savings can put some much-needed extra cash in your pocket, especially if you compare the early price to the price you pay if you wait until the last minute to purchase — nearly $US1900 per ticket.
Expedia and ARC crunched the numbers for domestic flights as well. You can’t save as much as you can for international travel, but there are still significant savings to be had if you purchase your tickets early.
The average price of a domestic flight is $US496. That figure falls to $US401 if you purchase 57 days ahead of time. In fact, prices remain consistently low 50-100 days prior to the flight.
Based on Expedia’s analysis, those buying tickets more than three weeks in advance on flights within North America can expect to see savings of $US195-225 per ticket, or roughly 43-56%. Some destinations showed more variation in price than others. According to the site, Atlanta and New York show the greatest advanced-purchase savings, while Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean show the least.
Expedia points out that Hawaii’s pricing is somewhat of an anomaly, in that travellers can find terrific deals one to three weeks in advance.
This means you can wait to book at the last minute and still find some good prices.
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