Travel Tips

Travel Tip: The Best Time to Buy a Plane Ticket

It’s a question I’m frequently asked: when is the best time to buy an airline ticket?

Until recently, I had a good answer: Midnight on Tuesday nights.

Why? Airlines often update their computer systems and unsold inventory shows up at that time.

The key was calling the airline—not going online.

Remember, not all available tickets or prices are displayed online.

But the airline reservation agents have access to a lot more flights, fares, and routings.

Well, you can now throw the Tuesday night idea away.

The airlines are now updating their computers every night, based on more sophisticated traffic models.

So what does this mean?

It means you have to have two best time approaches.

One, about 45 days out from your desired departure date, and another window about ten days out—on a Sunday.

That’s when the most unsold inventory surfaces.

If that strategy doesn’t work for you, try looking for more attractive, discounted one-way fares, especially if you’re taking a trip that lasts more than two weeks.

Of course, all bets are off if you want to book the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Friday before the Super Bowl, or before a major national holiday in this country or overseas.

In that case, book at least 180 days out.

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