Normally, I say that the person’s guess is as good as mine, as airline pricing is unpredictable. Yes, there have been a ton of studies that tell consumers how many days out they should book for the best price, but overall the subject is too nuanced for a simple answer. Since each destination and route is different, who can keep up? Not me.
However, if you’re looking for the cheapest time to buy a flight from an American city to specific destinations, Kayak’s 2018 Flight Hacker Guide includes a tool that sorts historical fares by route. You just put in your departing city and destination (from the list of options, which is somewhat limited), and the data it spits back will give a good sense of when those flights have historically been cheapest. A graph depicts the average roundtrip price per month. I put in Los Angeles to New York and was surprised by the results. The graph showed October being the cheapest month at $303 roundtrip, with November as the most expensive at $379.
Kayak, of course, is one of the largest airfare metasearch engines around—if not the largest—as it searches hundreds of other travel sites at once. To generate the results associated with the tool, Kayak uses last year’s flight booking data. According to the 2018 Flight Hacker Guide, “The data is based on flight searches and clicks on KAYAK, departing from the selected origin airport to the selected destination city for the respective travel month.”
Of course, the tool won’t help with last-minute fares, but if you plan your trips far in advance, it could definitely help. What would make it even more amazing is if you could put in a route and find out how many days in advance you should buy.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.