On Booking a Flight…

Southwest Airlines

If you’re not a frequent flyer, you probably haven’t spent much time scouring the Internet for the cheapest flight prices. Unlike hotel prices or bus tickets, the cost of airfare can change daily (and even hourly), which can make booking a little overwhelming. Our PHL Airport parking staff is here to help with some booking advice:

What Day Should I Fly?

Many people take vacations over the weekend, so the most popular days to fly are usually Friday and Sunday. This means that you’ll likely find flights at higher prices during these days. Instead of going the weekend route, try planning a trip on Tuesday or Wednesday. These days usually offer the cheapest airfare. After Tuesday and Wednesday, try Saturday.

How Far in Advance Should I Book?

Say you have your vacation days set, but you’re not sure how far in advance to book the tickets. On average, the cheapest price for a domestic flight will be between 40 and 54 days (about 5 1/2 – 7 1/2 weeks out). Unlike international flights, domestic flight prices can change often, so start scoping things out as soon as possible to get an idea for what a good price is. If possible, be flexible with your travel days to get the best deal.

When it comes to international flights, it’s a little different. Central and South American flights are usually cheapest around 3 1/2 months out while Caribbean flights are usually cheapest around 5 months out. Elsewhere in the world (including Mexico, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), the lowest prices can be found anywhere from 7 1/2 months to 9 1/2 months out. The good news about international flights is that once a price is established, it stays around the same amount for several months. Once it gets down to around 90 days before departure, that’s when prices start escalating.

Does the Day I Buy Really Matter?

You may have heard some speculation about flight prices being lower on certain days and/or at certain times. The general theory is that prices are at their lowest on Tuesday afternoons because airlines tend to offer sales starting Monday morning and by Tuesday afternoon, their competitors have had time to catch up and offer a similar price. However, Hopper’s data says that Thursdays are actually the best time to buy and CheapAir says prices don’t fluctuate much no matter what day you pick. Our advice is to check flight prices daily to get a good handle on what a cheap price is. Then once you find it (no matter what day it is), book it.

When Should I Go?

Every destination has its peak season – especially if it’s somewhere popular like Hawaii or France. Traveling during peak season means you’ll be paying more for your flight, hotel, activities, and more, so we suggest booking your trip during the off season. These include:

  • The Caribbean: April, May, June, September
  • Europe: Early spring, fall
  • Mexico: Summer
  • Hawaii: Mid-April, May, early June, September, October, November
  • Alaska: May, September
  • South Africa: June, July, August
  • South America: June, July, August
  • China: April, May, September, October
  • Japan: October, November, January, February, March
  • Australia: Mid-April, May, June, July, late August