You've likely heard that there's a magic time each week when you can get the absolute best airfare prices. Some say Tuesday at 1 p.m., others Saturday at midnight. Search for flights then, and you're guaranteed the best deal.
"This was great advice in the late '90s, maybe early 2000s, but nowadays it's just no longer the reality," says Keyes. "Now algorithms are responding to demand and other factors that are constantly changing the price."
The rule-of-thumb was true when loading airfares online was a more cumbersome process for airlines. But now, technology has advanced enough that fares can be easily updated on a daily, hourly or even minute-by-minute basis. That means you don't necessarily need to wait for Tuesday afternoon to roll around to book your flight.
Similarly, there's no single day of the year when flights are the lowest, despite the headlines, says Keyes. That said, there are some timing rules that remain true.
Keyes says that the "golden window" to book the least expensive flights for a domestic destination will be sold one to three months before departure, while travelers are likely to get the best international fares two to eight months before take off.
"It doesn't mean every fare during that time will be the best it's going to be, but there's the greatest likelihood during that period" of getting a good deal, he says.
He adds that there's no longer such a thing as a "last-minute deal," because airlines found a more lucrative sales plan. Now, prices tend to "sky rocket" during the last few weeks leading up to a flight.
"They want to maximize their revenue from business travelers who are most likely to book closer to the date of the flight," he says.
That said, you also don't want to book too early, either. Because changing a ticket can now cost between $200 and $250, depending on the airline, it often won't make sense to rebook if you find a better deal a few days or weeks after you buy your ticket.
"If you book a mediocre price early, you're giving away the opportunity your future self would have had to get a good deal," he says.
You can use an app like Hopper or a site like Scott's Cheap Flights that monitors fares for you to simplify the process, and free up your time from scouring Google flights for the best deal.
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