best timing to book a flight

Fight or Flight

when is best time to book a flightHave you ever had a fight with an airline fare, and it won? I've booked my fair share of great flight and vacation deals, but my recent misstep was a doozie, so I decided to use the misfortune as an example of what NOT to do!

Like stocks, airline fares fluctuate. Buy your ticket on a good, down day and you're happy. Buy it on a bad, up day and you're mad and out money. I was abruptly reminded of this fare dance when I booked a flight down south---apparently this youngish snowbird momentarily left her head in the clouds.

Fighting the Flight Recently my husband and I were in the market for a flight to Scottsdale, AZ. When we initially surveyed the options a month and a half before our departure date, the fare was $300 return YVR to PHX---not a bad price for a direct, weekend {friday - monday} flight. Why we didn't just book our flight right then is beyond me, but the story gets worse. A few days later, we remembered we had to book our flight, so we went back online and noticed it had gone up by $100. Great. At the time, we were on vacation in Mexico and again, forgot to book. I wish I could blame it on the tequila, but, I don't like it very much. Finally, the next day, we wised-up and booked the flight. The only problem? It was $200 more than a few days before. Yes, we could have flown out of an alternate airport or changed our dates for a slightly cheaper price, but it wasn't worth it. So, we swallowed our pride and handed over $500 to US Airways....thank God for the points on my travel reward card.

Taking Flight {Best Practices}

  • Follow these recommendations {from Kayak's Chief Scientist} for the BEST TIMING to book a flight
  • Set up a fare alert with Kayak or Yapta for the flight you're eying
  • Worried your flight price will go down after you book? If so, Yapta can help you get back the difference.

Moral of the story: if you're within a month and a half of your estimated departure, don't fight the flight, just book it!

[photo by Victor Dee]