Tracking trends for weeks — even months — before committing to buying a plane ticket is just plain unproductive. If you knew the secret about the best times to buy, you wouldn’t need to put yourself through the mental agony of clicking the “purchase” button and wondering “What if prices drop tomorrow?”
Peter Greenberg, CBS’ travel editor, released his tips for LinkedIn’s series on productivity hacks, explaining how he spends only “minutes” on buying airfare. Part of this is because he understands what a reasonable price is and what’s not for a ticket, but he also knows “WHEN to book.”
Greenberg has a very specific time and day on which to buy tickets: “Wednesday at 1 a.m., just one hour after Tuesday midnight,” in the timezone where the airline’s booking center is based.
“Most low airfares seem to appear between Sunday night and Monday night. And then, when people book those fares, they have 24 hours in which to purchase them,” he wrote. “At midnight Tuesday, all the discount fares that weren’t purchased come flooding back into the airline’s computer systems. And that’s when you strike.”
You might be thinking, “this sounds like I can’t book online.” That’s right, you can’t. Greenberg wrote that this must be done over the phone. The perk of booking over the phone though, Greenberg noted, is that it’s easier to get the good coach seats without them costing a little extra.
Watch Greenberg talk about his tips about the best time to book:
If you can’t bring yourself to get on the phone with an actual person, which Greenberg acknowledged might be hard for some people these days, he does have a tip for online shoppers as well.
“Whenever possible, I shop for fares on one computer and then clear my cookies or book on another computer altogether. If you want to take it a step further, go to a different location,” he wrote, citing “growing anecdotal evidence” that airlines are tracking various metrics on your computer that could drive up a price.
Here are a few of Greenberg’s other tips:
- Do NOT buy too early: “Unless you are planning travel for high-traffic days, like Christmas or July 4, you stand the best chance for the lowest possible fare 45 days out for domestic travel and 60 days out for international,” he wrote. Most of this has to do with the companies comparing travel volume from the previous year and basing prices on that.
- DO travel on off days: Business travelers are likely to fly Sunday night or Monday, then again on Fridays. Holidays often dictate peak travels days as well. “Flying midweek is often an effortless way to save money, and that’s when you’ll often find emptier and cheaper seats,” Greenberg wrote.
- DO consider time of the month: Greenberg recommends booking flights after the 7th of the month because “booking is busier right after payday on the first and 15th.”
(H/T: Lifehacker, Quartz)