Flight Booking – When is the Best Time?

Best Times to Plan Flights - save money and time!
Best Times to Plan Flights – save money and time!

For most individuals, booking a flight is done without much thought for when the best time might be from a financial perspective.  We usually fly according to preference to our schedules, what works for our jobs or vacation days. However, if you are traveling on a limited budget, your preferences may be unable to dictate when you travel. Instead, you may need to find the best deals on airfare. So, when is it the cheapest to to get better flight rates?

The first and most obvious to all is of course – in the off-season.  If you are traveling to a popular vacation destination, such as Orlando, Florida or Denver, expect to pay more during peak tourists months.  In the case of Colorado, for instance, during the winter months.   Ski enthusiasts flock to Colorado to enjoy some of the best skiing in the United States.  Airlines know this, so they charge high fares for flights to this highly-sought-after destination. On the other hand, Colorado isn’t so popular in the summertime, for obvious reasons.   It is harder to fill flights to Denver, so the airlines offer deals and discounts. If you can, without ruining your trip, take advantage by booking your flight in the off-season.  Of course if you like to ski, there are few options.  

The point is that booking trips in non peak, or less-than-peak seasons could help you save on your flights.  Moreover, since it is the off-season, you could also receive a discount on your car rental and hotel too.  If possible, always bundle, it gives you better deals.  Where ever you are flying, check when peak season is for that area.  Never assume you know when peak season occurs at your target destination, you can be pleasantly surprised that just switching your schedule by a few days or a week, could save you quite a bit.  

Another good time to to book your flight with an eye to saving money, is in the early morning or late afternoon hours. Usually, airlines have early morning flights departing at five or six in the morning.  Rarely are these flights booked solid.  After all, who wants to get up that early to start a long day’s journey? If you want to save money, you should become a morning person.  Remember, airlines offer discounts to fill flights. You are more likely to get a discount on a 6 am flight than you are a 9 am flight. Afternoon flights are also a wise choice. Vacationers usually want to fly in the morning or at night. Some feel they waste a vacation day by departing in the afternoon, so these flights are usually less full too, meaning discounts.

Avoid booking flights during the holidays. One of the most expensive times to travel by air is during the holiday seasons like Christmas and Thanksgiving. We want to spend time with our family, especially long-distance family members. Unfortunately, airlines know this and they try increase their prices for flights.  Since it is hard to avoid those times, try to book your flights for those times early in the year.  Early flight booking is sometimes rewarded.  It won’t alleviate the busyness of the airports at the time of flight, but that’s another issue.

When flying during the holiday seasons, you may save money, don’t fly a day or two before a holiday, like Christmas. These are peak travel dates; they are when those passengers who have limited vacation time or are procrastinators are trying to get home for the holidays. By flight several or more day away from the actual holiday, your flight will still be expensive, but you may save $50 or more by spending an extra three days with your family.

The best days of the week to book flights are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mondays and Fridays are the most expensive flight days.  Logic dictates that people traveling for weekend getaways usually fly on Fridays.  People traveling for business tend to fly on Mondays. These days are the airlines two most profitable flying days, so avoid them. By flying on Saturday, you miss most of the weekend warriors; remember they flew on Friday.

The bottom line, flexibility is your friend.  Booking as early as you can is important as well.  We can’t always book flights when we can save money, but for those times that we can control, making a few simple changes to your schedule, bundling travel products and leaving early or late, can leave you with a little more cash to spend when you arrive at your destinations.  

As always, feel free to contact your travel agent for any assistance with travel. You are going to pay commission to someone, (even Travelocity and Expedia) make sure it is someone you can call when you have a problem.  

One Reply to “Flight Booking – When is the Best Time?”

  1. These are great tips. I’m not a morning person the the afternoon always seems like a good idea. I also try to avoid any holidays and yes booking midweek is a great saving too.

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