Finally, there’s a scientific answer to that magic number of days before a flight when tickets are in their most affordable.
The solution? You’ll book flights nonstop when you find the secret.
Fifty-four days before departure is, typically, when domestic airline tickets are at their absolute lowest price. And when you don’t hit the exact 54 days, you need to can purchase between 112 to 21 days before your trip — within the “optimal booking window” — for the lowest possible costs. In this window, ticket prices reach rates that cost cheaper than a burger
At least that’s what the big data from 2016 tells us.
The analysts at CheapAir spent the last year assessing about three million airline excursions. They tracked ticket prices from about 400 days before departure all the way up until the day before, computing precisely which day each one hit its lowest point.
Air travelers are inclined to believe they’ll locate the lowest of low costs when they book “at the final minute.” This, according to all current data, is one hundred percent untrue.
The researchers found that, normally, a ticket cost about $200 more when booked within 7 days of departure, compared to tickets reserved in the “prime window.” Those who purchased tickets between 7 and 13 days before departure paid about $75 more.
While the researchers found that 54 days was really the magic number for booking on average, they’re swift to point out that this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule: your flight’s “best cost” window depends a great deal on the specific excursion you’re taking.
If you’re going someplace very popular at an incredibly popular time — like the Davao Festival, for example — you should book well before the “prime booking window” even begins. When there’s continuous, powerful demand for a flight, the researchers describe, airlines don’t have any incentive to reduce ticket prices as time goes on. The same principle holds true for flights to tough-to-reach airports in small cities: There’s little airline rivalry there, so ticket costs don’t fall nearly as much over their lifespan.