You looked up flights last night and the unthinkable happened – you found super cheap seats on dates that you actually want to fly on.
But deciding not to be reckless about things, you slept on it for a few days and checked them again.
Now they’ve gone up enormously in price. Why, oh why, do bad things happen to good people?
It could be because you missed your price window. Or it could also be because you didn’t book your tickets 54 days in advance of your travel day.
That’s the magic number according to CheapAir.com, who looked at 1.3 billion airfares as part of their annual study and found that for travel within the U.S.A. it was the best number of days to advance book your flights.
However, before you start counting backwards from August (when you’re planning a summer vacation) on your calendars, CheapAir warned that it’s more complicated than that. Just because those were the findings based on last year, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the best time to book for your trip this year.
There were, however, some more general rules that we can follow to help us get the best price on our next vacay.
Contrary to popular belief, the early birds don’t always catch the worm – the “First Dibs” period was not the greatest time to book your trip (most airlines begin selling around 335 days in advance). Although you have a full choice of times, nonstop or layover etc. at this stage, the flights will likely come down at some point between now and the day of travel, so as an early bird you’re looking at spending an average of $50 more than the prime booking window.
In fact, even the next period, the “Peace of Mind” zone, between 3 ½ and 6 ½ months before you fly will pay about $20 more per ticket on average (but you may have more options at this stage).
But the best time of all was the “Prime Booking Window”, between 3 weeks and 3 ½ months ahead of your travel plans. The site encourages travellers to look at this time because it is then when the best fare is likely to pop up.
Leave it any longer than that and you’ll likely be spending more money than you’d like to – when you book flights within seven days of departure, you pay on average $200 more than the prime period, and though 7-13 days out is a little better, you’ll still be looking at an average increase of $75.
Of course, extremely busy holiday periods throw all these rules out of the window completely. But early spring doesn’t strike us as prime flying season, and by our calculations, April 19 could be a pretty great time to carve out some vacation time.