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New Data Predicts Best, Worst Time to Buy Airline Tickets

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 2020-02-19 Rich Thomaselli
a close up of a computer: Mobile phone with electronic boarding pass © Daviles / iStock / Getty Images Plus Mobile phone with electronic boarding pass

The travel booking platform Qtrip has released its sixth annual airfare study on the best and worst times to buy airline tickets in 2020, with an array of interesting data.

The study by the southern California-based firm, whose sister company is CheapAir.com, is based on an analysis of 917 million airfares in more than 8,000 markets

"Chasing the lowest airfare can be a dizzying, if not maddening, experience," Jeff Klee, CEO of Qtrip and CheapAir.com, said in a statement. "Our Annual Airfare Study aims to bring a little clarity to the process, and some peace of mind. The study is part of our wider mission to give travelers the transparency to know what they’re buying, the data and selection to make smart choices, the flexibility to pay on their terms, and the support to deal with the unexpected.”

Here are some of the highlights:

– On average, the least expensive airfares were available 77 days before departure in 2019. That’s up from 76 days in 2018, 70 in 2017, and 54 days between 2013 and 2015.

– In 2019, airfares changed an average of 54 times by $34 each swing. This is down from 61 changes in 2018 and 62 in 2017.

– The day you fly is much more important than the day of week you buy. On average, a flight traveling on Tuesday or Wednesday is $100 less than the same itinerary on Sunday, which is by far the most expensive day to travel. However, contrary to some popular myths, the day of the week that you go online to buy your tickets still doesn’t matter.

– The best fares appear 85 days out in spring, 113 days out in summer, 77 days out in fall, and just 49 days out in winter. Excluding the December holidays, winter offers the best deals. Summer will cost $25 extra on average.

Related video: The real reason airplanes never seem to have enough overhead bin space [via T+L]

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