Friday, April 13, 2012

The Golden Ticket Purchase Time?

Is there a right or opportune time to buy a plane ticket?  Is this something you have ever even given any thought to?  Apparently there is, according to The Economist.

(Photo: My own, of my flight over the Alps on the way back to France from Rome in December 2010.)

"One of the iron laws of travel," The Economist notes, "is that fuel prices rise in the summer."  Yet, the article also notes that these price have so far not deterred (North) American travellers from peak-season travel.  Nevertheless, The Economists suggests that " individual can still try to mitigate the impact of higher summer fuel prices . . . [by] buy[ing] airline tickets early. Generally, the best time to buy an airline ticket is eight weeks before your flight, preferably at 3pm on a Tuesday."

Knowing that plane ticket prices are generally cheaper the earlier you buy them, I have tended to purchase them as soon as my travel plans become concrete.  When I think back to my transatlantic ticket purchases, they haven't really adhered to the tip for the apparent eight-week rule:

Peter and I still need to decide our mode of transportation from Madrid to Barcelona and buy our plane tickets to Amsterdam from Barcelona; we'll be close to the eight-week sweet spot, but this is purely coincidence. I have another trip in the budding stages of planning for early autumn that involves flying and I am already checking airfares periodically for a good deal; it will be interesting to note when I actually buy my tickets.

How do you decide when to buy your plane tickets?  Would knowing these eight-week/mid-week/afternoon tips to try and score a better deal affect your purchase timelines?  Have any of your plane ticket purchases coincided with any of these timelines recommended in The Economist?  Do you have any tips for scoring a good deal on airfare?  And most importantly, are you looking forward to travel (by plane, train or otherwise) this summer?  I'd love to hear!

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