An old proverb once said ‘Booking a flight is a delicate balance between compulsion and self-control’.
Ok, we made that up, but we stand by it.
Booking flights can be difficult, having to constantly check prices, worrying about what day to fly on, the whole thing is just menacing.
So when is the best time to fly?
Well, luckily, the folks over at Skyscanner have let us in on all of their secrets in a recent report on booking.
The travel app has found that 75 per cent of Aussies actually miss out on the best international flight bargains, while 90 per cent loses out on the cheapest domestic deals by booking outside the ‘best time to book’ window – mostly when flights are booked too close to the departure date.
From the survey, 17 per cent shared that they would book their international flights less than two months out, which coincides to when flight prices take an upward turn.
To help savvy travellers find the greatest deals and allow Aussies to keep up their ever-expanding appetite for travel, Skyscanner analysed millions of flight bookings made over the past two years, to reveal the Best Time to Book.
Packaged into an interactive tool, travellers can now easily find out how far in advance they should book their flights to secure the biggest savings to popular domestic and international destinations and get more bang for their buck this year.
Booking international flights
On average, Skyscanner’s data shows that booking 22 weeks in advance to international destinations is the optimum time to get the greatest savings, though this will differ from destination to destination.
For example, travellers flying from Sydney to Hong Kong should think about booking 23 weeks in advance for savings of up to 12 per cent ($135), while a getaway to Auckland can be booked 12 weeks in advance for savings of 5 per cent ($25).
If travellers do not have the luxury of booking so far in advance, the tool also offers the second and third best times to book to still bag some savings.
For example, Sydneysiders hoping to visit Los Angeles can save up to 7 per cent ($113 * ) if they book 23 weeks in advance, but may still enjoy savings of up to 3 per cent if they book 12 weeks before flying.
Robyn Lee, Senior Growth Manager at Skyscanner said: “The general rule of thumb for getting cheap flights is to book as early as possible.”
“But it also helps to know when the best time to book is so that travellers can make an informed decision on when to book to save as much as they can.”
This year’s tool includes even more routes than before and drills into the best times to book at city level providing travellers with a more accurate and transparent view of potential savings when looking at when to book flights.
Last minute purchasing
Skyscanner’s data revealed that, on average, flights to domestic destinations are best booked 21 weeks in advance to secure the best prices.
However, it was found that nearly half (42 per cent) of Aussies would only book their domestic flights less than two months before, which also happens to be when airfares starts to peak.
Similar to international airfares, advanced booking is key to saving money for domestic travel in 2018.
For example, 13 per cent ($70) can be saved on flights from Sydney to Perth if booked 23 weeks ahead of travelling.
In comparison, waiting until a week before travelling will tend to result in travellers paying a huge chunk of extra cash on flights to domestic destinations – in some cases up to 30 per cent more!
It is a common misconception that domestic flights are consistently priced throughout the year, which could be why travellers choose to hold off on booking until closer to their travel date.
“However, our data has revealed that good savings can still be made for domestic travel by booking well ahead of time,” added Robyn.
What time of year is cheapest to fly?
Not only are there best times to book flights, Skyscanner has also identified that May is the cheapest month to travel, with average savings of 13 per cent to all major international and domestic destinations.
Unsurprisingly, travelling in December is the most expensive – the festive period sees airfares surge by almost a third (32 per cent) on average!
Is there a best day to book?
The survey also found that 61 per cent of Aussies believe that booking midweek, between Tuesday to Thursday, will get them the best flight deals.
Addressing this belief, Robyn said
“We looked into our data to see if there really was a specific day or time of day to book flights but we found that savings were minimal day to day, for multiple different routes as airfare pricing is far more sophisiticated.”
“The best way to find the cheapest flights is really to book as far in advance as possible, or as soon as you’re planning a trip.”
“Even if you’re not ready to book, subscribing to Price Alerts for the flights you want will notify you of price drops so you can book when flight fares decrease.”