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International Airfare - Finding the Best Deal on International Flights

Booking international airfare online
Planning an international flight by scanrail/DepositPhotos

A study of 130 million international airline tickets sold over a 19-month period was recently released by Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). It reveals some money-saving tips for this year's international air travelers that will have them flying high. The study includes tickets for both domestic and international flights. ARC's statistical analysis shows travelers the best day of the week to buy international airline tickets, the best advance purchase time, and the best online sellers for the greatest savings. With this data-based winning combination, travelers can't help but save big money.

The Best Day of the Week to Buy International Airfare

 For years, people have relied on the belief that Tuesday is the best day to buy airline tickets and save money. This may have been true at one point, but the data indicates that Sunday is actually the best day of the week to purchase your tickets. Of course, this is not an absolute, because airline ticket prices do fluctuate, but the data pattern shows that travelers received the greatest savings by purchasing flights on Sundays. With tickets at their lowest then, the prices increase daily as the week progresses, so that Friday's tickets are the most expensive. Saturday is the second-least expensive. If you must buy a ticket during the week, Tuesday is still the best weekday for purchasing tickets even though it still averaged a few hundred dollars more per ticket. Keep in mind that buying on Sunday is a recommendation, not a guarantee.

The Best Time to Buy International Airline Tickets

When considering advance purchase savings on air travel, the data from the study indicates that the lowest international prices are 24 weeks prior to departure date. The average international ticket price is $1368. Travelers who purchase international tickets 225 to 150 days in advance see lower prices with the lowest airfare prices at 171 days prior to departure. It looks like this; an average $1368 international airline ticket would cost approximately $1035 during the 225 to 150-day advance purchase window, and $1004 171 days prior to departure. Factor in purchasing international tickets during this window on a Sunday, and the ticket price hits its lowest at $906. That is a savings of over $460. The bottom line is book your ticket at least 171 days before departure and buy it on a Sunday.

The Best Place to Buy International Plane Tickets

In The International Airfare Booking Experiment, international airfare prices were compared on 12 online booking services. The research goal was to determine which, if any, of the booking services consistently returned the lowest cost plane fares. The study included Airfare.com, CheapoAir.com, Cheaptickets.com, Clickandfly.com, EconomyTravel.com, Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, OneTravel.com, Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, and Vayama.com. The same 13 routes were used to search each online booking service. The results indicate that there is wide disparity in the same tickets through different online services.

The data further indicates that EconomyTravel.com consistently has the highest fares and did not return a single lowest fare route in the study. No single service consistently had the lowest fares, although Expedia returned slightly more low fares than competitors, just not enough to make a significant difference. In fact, booking flights directly with airlines gave the greatest return of reduced price flights; sometimes the difference was substantial. The flipside to booking tickets directly with the airlines is that they often come with hidden costs and ticket restrictions.

The hard work of compiling and analyzing air travel data has been done for you. You now know what day of the week is best for booking a flight, the optimum number of days prior to departure to book, and the most consistently low (even if only marginally) places to book your air travel online. Add to your repertoire of money-saving travel ideas with Henry Rustkirk's Secrets to Cheap Flights. Learn how to save more money on flights than you ever knew was possible, and many other insider secrets to travel hacking.


About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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