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How to Save Money on Plane Tickets

Written by Nickel - 5 Comments

How to Save Money on Plane Tickets

Are you looking forward to a nice Spring Break vacation? Or maybe a summer trip to visit family? If so, and if you’re planning on flying, then read on…

According to a study by Airlines Reporting Corp., which is company involved in ticket transactions between airlines and travel agents, the best time to buy a plane ticket is six weeks before your intended travel date.

This study, which was based on millions of transactions over the past four years, found that passengers buying tickets six weeks in advance paid roughly 6% less than the overall average fare.

The study also showed that ticket prices can rise dramatically about a week before the departure date, and can be as much as 40% higher if you try to buy the same day you travel.

This isn’t to say that you’ll always get the best deal by booking six weeks in advance but, all else being equal, that’s when you’re most likely to score the lowest price.

As an aside, a colleague once raved to me about the Bing travel predictor, which tells you whether you should by now or wait (along with a percent confidence indicator) based on whether they expect fares to rise or drop.

While this sounds great in theory, my experience has been that the predictions aren’t particularly accurate, even when their confidence is high.

As I’ve noted in the past, another good trick for saving money when you travel is to consider alternative airports. This won’t work for everyone, but some airports are consistently more expensive than others.

Source: LA Times via The Consumerist

Published on January 30th, 2012 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Frugality, Travel

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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5 Responses to “How to Save Money on Plane Tickets”

  1. 1
    Adam Says:

    Would be more helpful if you showed an example or some data behind the analysis.

  2. 2
    John Says:

    I wasn’t too impressed with Bing either. i tried Travelocity & Priceline too and found way cheaper prices on Priceline (this is not William Shatner). So what if you buy a ticket a year in advance? is this study saying that you’re likely to pay more if you buy your ticket before the six week mark?

  3. 3
    Tyler S. Says:

    Don’t forget to check sites like Hotwire for any last minute deals! I’ve had to book emergency flights on short notice, and paid less than similar flights booked weeks in advance.

    There’s always a chance you could save going last minute!

  4. 4
    Economically Humble Says:

    I’ve been using Hipmunk and Kayak rather successfully. I especially like how Kayak will keep trip itineraries for free.

    And I never knew of the 6-week rule for buying tickets… good to know, thanks!

  5. 5
    Nickel Says:

    I regularly use Hotwire and/or Priceline for car rentals but never for airfare. I guess I’m too much of a control freak for that. With a car, I don’t care who I rent from. But with airfare, there’s also the scheduling issue.

    We live a good distance from the airport, and I’m pretty particular about the time of day that I fly due to traffic, etc. so I haven’t been comfortable making the leap. But for something like an emergency trip, I could definitely see the value in doing this.

    EH: I’m a big fan of both Kayak and Hipmunk. I especially like being able to visualize the grid of available flights, and being able to sort by agony (on Hipmunk).

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