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Browsing Tag: When to buy and airline ticket

What do you get when you combine writing about airline travel since 2008 with a few decades of being a sarcastic chap? Unsolicited Travel Advice from David (the Editor-in-Chief of this dog and pony show) — that’s what! There are way too many travel-related click-bait stories out there that give you boring and questionable information from “experts.” This series will be different — I will give you entertaining, possibly less questionable information, while not caring about any sort of clicks or bait. Let me set the mood. Imagine that you and I are hanging out, when we have just hit upon an interesting airline/travel topic (when is the best time to buy airline tickets?) and I am fired up and ready to spew my thoughts and opinions. When I wrap up, I hope that you won’t just awkwardly stare at me, but instead continue the conversation in the comments. Let’s do this…

There are lots of seats in lots of planes out there, but tickets go fast!

There are lots of seats in lots of planes out there, but tickets go fast!

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BUY MY AIRLINE TICKET?

Now! Crap, you just missed it… do it now! I am serious… don’t overthink this, buy them now! There are all sorts of thoughts/theories on this. Some backed with actual data, others sound more like snake oil pitches. Here are some “suggestions” that I have heard over the years:

  • Buy on a Tuesday
  • Earlier the better
  • Wait until the last minute for great deals
  • Buy on Travel Deal Tuesday (Tuesday after Thanksgiving)

Although those opinions might sound fun, I decided to search for some data to back these up. I ventured onto quite a few “legit” travel sites where there was no shortage of experts giving advice on the best time to buy airline tickets. Here is (no joke) what I found… the best time to buy a ticket before your flight: 70 days, 62 days, 90 days, 47 days, 69 days, 21 days, 110 days, 49 days, 217 days, 147 days, 50 days, 76 days, 99 days, 66 days, 94 days… I had to stop. There were more, lots more… but I could already see the total lack of trends. Or reasoning. I was starting to get the hint that there might not be some magical number, but more of people wanting you to read their story and click an ad (or two) before you leave.

Eastern Air Lines ticket from the 1950s. You waited WAAAAY too long to buy this one.

Eastern Air Lines ticket from the 1950s. You waited WAAAAY too long to buy this one.

Even if you did have a magic number, there are so many variables that can change prices; load factors, oil prices, competition, and of course my favorite… Murphy’s Law. It is a gamble and if you love the thrill of a winning streak, I will try not to judge, but I have seen enough movies to know that the house (or airlines) will always win in the long run.

I don’t use any special tricks or secrets, I just ask myself these three simple questions:

#1 Do I want to go on this trip?
#2 Do I have the money/miles to buy my airline ticket now?
#3 Will I be less happy if I do not buy them now, and the prices go up?

If I answer “yes” to most of these questions, I say the time to buy is now! Of course once I buy, there is one thing I must not do, or it could ruin EVERYTHING…