Flights can greatly add to the overall cost of a holiday if you’re not careful. Therefore it’s key to be savvy about when and how you book your travel abroad. By timing it right, tourists can make sizeable savings.
Express.co.uk spoke to Gemma Bowles in-house travel expert at leading travel search platform HolidayPirates for her travel advice about when you should book your flight to bag the best price.
Firstly, jet-setters must factor in whether their destination is long-haul or short-haul as the booking technique will differ.
“To secure the best price, the timeframe which you should book your flight within will depend on your final destination,” said Bowles.
“For long-haul flights, I’d recommend booking two to four months ahead, while for shorter trips it’s better to book between two months and three weeks before your departure date.”
The day you fly out on will also make a difference, as will the time.
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“The thing that will affect the prices the most will be the day of week and time of day you choose to fly,” Bowles explained.
“Rule of thumb is that you will find the cheapest flights during the time slots no one else wants to fly in.
“A midweek flight in the middle of the day will, typically, be more affordable than a Friday evening one.
It’s a good idea to keep on top of when flights will be released.
“Airlines usually work on a yield management system, meaning that as seats are sold, the remaining seats increase in price,’ explained Bowles.
“As a result, the best deals are often to be found as soon as the flight schedules are released.
“If you are thinking of booking your summer holiday for say June, July or August, the flights for these are usually released in late September or early October the year before.”
She added: “As a result, it’s actually early booking that is statistically most likely to get you a good deal on a holiday.
“However, the flexible traveller will have the chance to sometimes secure cheap last minute bargains through flash sales and promotions.”
Travellers should factor in the time of year and how popular the destination will be at that time.
“Whether it’s high or low season at your desired destination will also affect the prices significantly, not only in terms of flight prices but for accommodation and activities as well,” said Bowles.
“Spring and autumn are broadly the best times to travel, as long as your trip does not fall during half-term or school breaks.
“If you’re flexible with your dates and timings, consider looking for last-minute deals. Check out travel deal websites, like HolidayPirates, Momondo, and Kayak, to find the best deals for hotels, flights, or entire holiday packages.”
There are tools available to help you work out when is best to book, too.
The expert explained: “Skyscanner actually has a ‘Skyscanner Monthly/Yearly’ table in which you can clearly see what time of month or year would be the cheapest time to book. Note, though, that prices are always changing so, whilst useful, do take these insights with a pinch of salt.
“Clear your cookies in from your search engine when you are looking for the cheap flights, websites will track your searches and show you higher prices since you are likely to book.
“If you want to travel at the last minute, I’d also recommend that you check the websites of different airlines directly. They will begin to worry about filling their seats as the departure time of each individual flight nears, so may slash their prices.”
Bowles’ final piece of advice is to keep the 24-hour rule in mind: “Many airlines will allow you to cancel or change your ticket within 24 hours of purchase so, to settle your nerves, you can buy a ticket but still continue shopping around for a better option, just in case.”