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When is the Best Time to Buy a Airline Ticket?

July 31, 2007 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News

One of the questions I’m most often asked by readers, friends, and even family is, When is the best time to buy a plane ticket? I wish I could give a simple answer like Tuesday at 3:00 PM, but unfortunately it’s not quite that easy.

There are several factors that determine how much a ticket is going to cost you, and ultimately, the airlines maintain control over how much they are going to charge for a particular seat. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to find the best airfares out there. I broke down the airfare pricing process and offered tips on when and how to find the lowest airfares in an article I wrote entitled When is the Best Time to Buy Air Travel?

I hope after you give it a read you’ll be better equipped to find the cheapest airfares available. Oh, and I promise I’ll let you know if Tuesday at 3:00 PM ever does become the one and only best time to buy a plane ticket.

2 Responses to “When is the Best Time to Buy a Airline Ticket?”

  1. Rick Seaney says:

    Hi Nick,
    Yes the price of a particular itinerary can change throughout the day.
    This can happen a few ways:
    1) An airfare has 2 rules on it called “Day/Time” and “Flight Restriction”. Both these rules can limit the airfare to a particular time of day. A classic example is American Airlines who has been known to file cheaper airfares that must depart after lunch on Monday and before lunch on Thursday.
    2) For each city pair the airlines file a price “ladder” with usually 6 to 10 price points. These price points are associated with about 10 seat groupings called “inventory” buckets. In theory every time you make a trip query the airline can decide which of these 10 price points to quote. They can and do change there minds often, thus whey you can see price jumps and/or decreases
    3) For Domestic U.S. airlines fares are distributed at 10am, 12:30pm and 8pm each day and are loaded 2-5 hours later on the reservation system. This means the price point could change after new fares are loaded (increases or decreases)

  2. Nick says:

    When I saw the title of this post, I thought perhaps you were going to talk about “time of day.” I’ve noticed that fares–on US in particular–are often less expensive early in the morning than other times throughout the day. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s caught my eye on a couple of occasions when I was checking the same ticket multiple days in a row. The price would consistently jump starting around 10am. Is this just due to people making reservations throughout the day that release at midnight? Or do fares actually differ by time of day?

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