How to Shop for Your Next Airline Ticket

No, no. Your time can be better spent shopping for a bathing suit to wear on your vacation. Are you ready? Because this information is about to change your life. According to Peter Greenberg, CBS’s Travel Editor, the best time to buy your ticket is on Wednesday at 1AM (in the time zone where the booking center is based).

In explanation to this beacon of hope for your wallet, Greenberg said, “Most low airfares seem to appear between Sunday night and Monday night. And then, when people book those fares, they have 24 hours in which to purchase them,” he explains.  “At midnight Tuesday, all the discount fares that weren’t purchased come flooding back into the airline’s computer systems. And that’s when you strike.”

So, this does present a minor hiccup for those of us who by default, do all of our purchasing via a computer. If you’re thinking that this sounds like you can’t purchase online, you’re right. You have to purchase the seat over the phone. But, Greenberg adds that since you’re talking to a human, you are more likely to getter a better coach seat, or one that seems preferable to you.

If you absolutely cannot open your computer because the emanating light from your screen will rouse your very grumpy spouse (who let’s face it, should be grateful for your shopping prowess), Greenberg admits that you can shop online if you absolutely must. But first, follow these useful tips:

  • Browse the sites, but then delete your cookies. There is growing evidence that websites can be tracking your habits in order to drive up price.  Then, purchase on another computer. This might sound all conspiracy theorist-y, but you just never know.
  • Do not buy too early UNLESS you are planning to travel on a holiday or other high airline traffic day. Book about 45 days out for domestic flights and no more than 60 days for international flights, Greenberg suggests.
  • Whenever possible, travel on “off peak days.” Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days on which to book your flight. While it might be inconvenient, it’s the cheapest by hundreds.
  • Consider the time of month.  Many of us book right after being paid (the first and fifteenth, most popularly). Try to book on a day like the 7th, when traffic on the websites are slower, driving down prices.
  • If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person (no pun intended), wait until just before the departure date or even on it, and try to find a good deal on an empty seat. No guarantees on this though. Some airlines drive the prices up, in anticipation of emergencies. But on the day of? Empty seats are yours for next to nothing.

If shopping online, where are the bests places to look? There’s tons of competing travel sites and it can be a little overwhelming to have six browser tabs open while searching. Try a category search at PromosPro, or try a lesser known site to find a better deal:

  • GetGoing
  • FlightFox
  • Flyinaway
  • Hipmunk
  • Momondo

Happy Traveling!