The excitement of travel begins right from the time you book your ticket. You undoubtedly look forward with anticipation to the joys of exploring the world and meeting new people.
Perhaps like most people you agitate about the best time to book your ticket. Opinions vary on how far in advance international flights should be booked.
How Airlines Set Their Prices
Airlines open flights for reservation a year in advance, however, it’s best not to book your ticket that early. This is because fares fluctuate, hence you should aim to identify the best window that will yield the lowest fare.
Airlines are in business to market and sell their product. Their goal is to make a profit, therefore among the factors that determine ticket prices include the price of oil, the distance of the destination, and what the competition is offering.
Governments collect taxes on air tickets, therefore this too can influence the fare. In addition, airlines set fares according to the category of traveler they wish to target.
Leisure travelers are more likely to book in advance, and they are usually in search of budget fares. Business travelers on the other hand are less flexible with their dates and they are prepared to pay more.
How Pricing Works
Pricing is set on the basis of the principle of supply and demand. Weeks before a flight departs when the flight is still open, an airline will post reasonable fares. As it gets closer to the departure date and the demand increases, the fare will increase accordingly.
Since the airlines peg their fares to the availability of seats, this means that fares are never constant; they keep fluctuating. You may be surprised to obtain a cheap fare shortly before your departure if for some reason the airline was unable to sell seats on that flight.
The Destination Has a Bearing
There are certain destinations that are popular and have a clearly defined ‘peak’ season. For example, everyone heads to Europe for the summer, starting from the end of May to August. Therefore, if you are intending to travel to Europe in summer, you need to book your flight by February at the latest. For travel in the Fall, you can make your reservations in March or April.
The Season, Time, And Day Of Travel Have A Bearing
Fares are highest when there is a demand for seats, hence advance ticket purchases are necessary for travel over long weekends, special holidays, sports tournaments, Christmas and New Year. Moreover, try to schedule your departure on a weekday; Monday and Wednesday are recommended, and Sunday too yields lower fares.
Similarly, you may opt to stay over at your destination on Saturday and commence your return journey on a weekday.
Early morning flights are unpopular, therefore you will find that fares are considerably lower if you take a 5am flight, for example. Late night flights too, tend to be affordable.
Try to make your reservations early in the morning. This is because airlines sometimes post promotional fares during the night.
Experts say that from 4 months to 6 weeks prior to departure is the best time to reserve international flights. Therefore during this window, monitor deals that are posted on airline and travel websites, and you may succeed in zeroing in on an excellent deal.