The best times to buy an airplane ticket

Experts chime in on when you should book a flight

When it comes down to air travel, there’s a common belief that Tuesdays are the best day for booking a flight. But, there are other considerations travel pros keep in mind before they commit themselves to an airline ticket.

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Whether it be a certain hour of the day or utilizing technology to do the price monitoring for you, there is an assortment of strategies you can try for an optimum price point and travel experience.

Here are the top four tips travel experts swear by for securing the best flight.

Be a night owl

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It’s no secret that timing is of the essence when you’re booking a flight. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, the earlier you book the better.

“Mid-day flights tend to always be more expensive compared to a red-eye or early morning flight time. The reason for this is simply because most travelers don’t want to fly through the night or at the crack of dawn, which is understandable,” said Tom Spagnola, senior vice president of supplier relation at CheapOair.

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He added, “If you can sacrifice those precious hours of sleep, book a late night or early morning flight to safe on airfare as well – airports will be emptier too, which means shorter security lines.”

Adjust which days you travel

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The same way the time of day makes a difference in airline rates, the actual day you choose to travel plays a role in how much cash you’ll be shelling out.

“Based on experience, I’ve noticed that traveling on non-peak days can help you avoid upcharges and over-crowding. If possible, try traveling on actual holidays, when prices can be 50 percent cheaper,” said Lee Abbamonte, a travel expert at Bank of America. “Alternately, you can get good deals when you travel early, before the holiday and/or stay a few extra days after.”

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Conversely, Abbamonte advised travelers who have remote work opportunities to maximize their stays, so they can depart on a cheaper flight day.

“Combining nonpeak travel days and flying into airport hubs is another way to get great deals when flying,” he added.

Book like a procrastinator

People buying something online

Experts typically advise travelers to book their flights months in advance. However, there are some who believe last-minute bookings offer deals that are better than the ones people can get with advanced purchases.

Slickdeals’ Senior Travel Editor Liam Fitzpatrick is one of the experts who says last-minute bookings could yield cheaper deals for flyers.

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"The best time to book a domestic flight is around two to three weeks in advance,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you're brave and have flexible plans, last-minute flight deals, the day of or the day before, can also net you some great prices.”

For international travel, Fitzpatrick noted that the “best time to book is usually six months beforehand."

Sign up for alerts or deal programs

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“To actually find the best time to fly if you know your route and dates of travel, subscribe to Google Flight tracking alerts,” said Sally French, a credit card expert at Wirecutter.

Alternatively, she suggested travelers look into and subscribe to deal websites in the early vacation planning stages.

Outside of meticulous price watching, French also recommended travelers book a flight through the Southwest Travel Funds program, which offers some of the cheapest fare classes. If a cancelation does occur under this program, a traveler can reschedule a flight for up to 12 months in the future for the complete cost of the original ticket.

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“Why worry about saving $10 by booking on a Tuesday vs. a Monday, when you can save hundreds of dollars in other places,” French added. “There are credit cards out there that can get you tons of miles to pay for your flights, whether you go for an airline-specific card, or a general travel card that allows you to transfer points into airline miles programs.”