how to book the best flight

Tech Tuesday :: The Six-Week Rule

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{Editor’s Note: Enter to win a travel set from Shaffali Skincare, inspired by Ayurvedic herbs aromatherapeutic essences including French lavender, Croatian sage, Italian orange blossom, and Egyptian geranium! Contest ends TOMORROW. Enter today!}

Today's Tech Tuesday is not so much about new tech, but how to use existing travel tech to show airline tickets who's boss!

It's true, we've written about the best time to buy airline tickets before, but we thought we'd resurrect the topic in light of new data released by Airlines Reporting Corp., a US company that handles ticketing transactions between airlines and travel agents.

The findings are not mind-bending, but serve as a solid reminder of when to ask the flight you're eyeing out on a date.

After crunching almost 144-billion flight ticketing transactions over in 2011, the study found that passengers pay the lowest price, nearly 6% below the average fare, if they buy six weeks before their flight. Other findings include: ticket prices soaring a week before departure, and up to a 40% ticket price hike for day-of tickets.

Note to self, don't buy a same-day flight ticket to Rome like Omar did on Sunday's epidode of Pan Am! He's a Prince, he can handle 40% more.

Next time you're searching for the best flight and fare, consider the above findings, plus a few other commandments we've compiled: - Six Ways To Save On Airfare :: to help you score the lowest airfare for your next trip - How To Book The Best Flight :: without hours of research - The Airfare Dance :: key findings from's Chief Scientist

PS - After a 14-year stint, Priceline's Negotiator has been killed off. Here's the final hurrah: {If you're having trouble seeing video, click here}

[photo by @tristyler taken in Australia at the Gladstone airport]

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]