US airfare shopping engine CheapAir, has analysed 1.5 billion airfares to find the ideal time for US travellers to book a domestic flight.
Research was based on a review of almost 5 million trips, covering 15,000 markets. Fares were checked from 1 to 320 days in advance.
The study revealed that the price of an average trip changed 70 times.
It also found that the average savings that could be achieved from buying on the ‘best’ day versus buying on the ‘worst’ was $201 per ticket.
Jeff Klee, chief executive of CheapAir, said: “When you buy your flight makes a huge difference. No one wants to find that the person sitting next to them on a flight paid $100 less for their ticket. We spend a lot of time collecting and analysing fare data so our customers can make more informed decisions.”
It was found that fares tended to drop slowly, but steadily, from when the flights opened for sale.The low point was reached in the ‘prime booking window’ between 27 and 114 days in advance.
Bookings shouldn’t be left too late, the average extra for a booking made less than 14 days in advance cost an average $111 more. This jumped to an extra $174 if booked within seven days.
However, the study also revealed that buying a ticket too early can be costly. Tickets when released tended to be around $50 more expensive than their eventual low point.
International flights behaved differently to the US domestic flights. This time it was generally better to book earlier. The ‘prime booking window’ ranged from 96 to 318 days in advance, depending on the destination.
So when is the best time to book? It was found that, on average, a US domestic flight should be booked 47 days in advance.