When's the best time for international students to buy flight tickets?

Are you scouring the web for cheap flight tickets to save on your next holiday or next trip back home? We feel you.

Travelling has become more accessible to the masses, thanks in part to the rise of low-cost airlines and affordable accommodation. However, as any seasoned traveller will tell you, flight tickets fluctuate – a lot – and quite often, they form the bulk of your expenses when travelling.

A CheapAir.com 2019 Annual Airfare study found that the average economy fare changes a whopping 61 times before a trip. Unsurprisingly, this makes booking flights stressful and anxiety-inducing.

So, how do you ensure you get the fairest price?

The study, which is in its fifth year and is based on an analysis of 917 million airfares over than 8,000 markets, notes the following:

When’s the best day of the week to travel?

According to data for 2018, the “best day to buy a flight” for those flying within the US is 76 days before from your travel date.

Airfare booking zones

Booking zones “chart what an airfare looks like from the approximate time it is published about 11 months out, all the way up to the very last minute you can buy your ticket”.

They found that the lowest airfares tend to pop up about four months to three weeks in advance of your travel dates. This is also known as the ‘Prime Booking Window’, since fares in this zone are within five percent of their lowest point.

Does the day of the week you purchase a flight matter?

In short, no.

CheapAir.com notes that whether you buy your ticket on Tuesday or Sunday, it’s going to cost roughly the same.

When is the best day to fly?

Opt for midweek instead of weekends.

Tuesday and Wednesday are ideal days to fly, with the former costing nearly US$85 cheaper on average than the most expensive day of the week to travel, Sunday. They also found that Friday is the second most expensive day of the week to fly.

When is the best time to buy plane tickets each season?

  • Winter: 94 days in advance (just over three months)
  • Spring: 84 days in advance (nearly three months)
  • Summer: 99 days in advance (just over three months)
  • Fall: 69 days in advance (just over two months)

So while there’s nothing certain in life, these findings from CheapAir.com can serve as useful guidelines for students to follow.  

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