Ever found cheap plane tickets, waited a little while to book, and then BAM -- they skyrocketed by $200? Yeah, well, stop lollygagging is the lesson there. But if you really want to avoid ever dealing with price spikes again, buy your tickets exactly 47 days before you fly. That’s the absolute cheapest time to reserve tickets, or so says flight search site CheapAir.com.
The airfare website crunched the numbers on nearly 5 million trips in 2014 to find the best times to book flights, and found booking seven weeks in advance can save you an average of $201 on tickets. CheapAir’s CEO Jeff Klee recommends flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday, which are statistically the cheapest times to sit in an airplane seat, instead of on a Friday or Sunday, the most expensive days.
But if you can’t wait for the seven-week mark, CheapAir’s data figured out that you can still save money by booking any time between one and four months in advance.
As for when not to book: any day within the last two weeks of your trip, which will cost you around $111 more than usual. Even worse, tickets booked just one week before travel can set you back an extra $174. Booking super early doesn't help, either, however; the report found flights cost approx. $50 above their lowest price when they're first released. So while it pays to be the early bird at Hometown Buffet, since you get the choicest steamed broccoli and baked scrod, it does not pay in buying flights that soon.
Of course, it’s impossible to know exactly when the ticket you’re booking is at its cheapest. After all, the price of a ticket fluctuated on average around 70 times (!!) while on sale. But it is possible to know when the scrod's best at Hometown Buffet. It's 4:30pm.
TL; DR: Book 47 days before you fly, or the next time you see a cheap deal within one to four months in advance, to get the best value tickets.
Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. In 47 days, she hopes she is some place warmer. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.