Best and cheapest time to book flights

From leveraging cost comparison sites to booking on off hours and days, these hacks will help you get the best deals when booking air travel

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Booking travel can be both an exhilarating experience, as well as a stressful one. As you plan your next escapade, eagerly anticipating the adventures that await, amidst the excitement, is often the daunting struggle of finding the best price and most ideal day and time to book your flights. Navigating the ever-changing landscape of airfare prices can be a challenging task, with numerous variables at play. Learning to leveraging the different tools and resources at your disposal can be a valuable skill that can lead to substantial savings on your travel expenses. 

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In this guide to booking air travel, we’ll explore key insights and strategies tailored to help you secure the best deals on your flights. 

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1. Utilize fare comparison websites

Knowledge is key.

Before we delve into the specifics of timing, it’s essential to arm yourself with powerful tools for finding the best flight deals. Canadian travellers can take advantage of popular fare comparison websites such as Expedia, Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights. These platforms allow you to compare prices across various airlines and booking agencies, providing an excellent starting point for your flight search.

2. Best day to book flights

Mid-week versus weekend booking.

The optimal day to book flights is a topic of much debate among travel experts. However, studies suggest that booking midweek, particularly on Tuesdays, can yield cost-effective results. Airlines often release their discounted fares on Mondays, and as other carriers catch up with their pricing adjustments, competitive deals can be found on Tuesdays. On the other hand, Fridays and weekends are typically when airfares are at their highest due to increased demand corresponding with when people are off for the weekend. 

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3. Embrace the “Prime Booking Window”

“Last minute deals” may be a thing of the past.

The concept of the “Prime Booking Window” has emerged as a useful guideline for travellers, which usually occurs three to five months and three to six weeks before your departure date. Airlines tend to offer competitive prices during these periods as they tend to try to fill up their flights without resorting to last-minute discounts.

4. Aim to be flexible with your dates and consider off-peak travel

Flexibility can save money.

Flexibility with your travel dates can significantly impact your flight costs, even if it is just by a few days. Companies like Expedia, Air Canada and WestJet all provide within their search feature the ability to select the option to view alternative dates and prices, often showing the flight prices two to three days before and after the day you originally inputted into the search. 

Travelling during off-peak seasons or shoulder periods can result in substantial savings, as well. Additionally, mid-week flights are generally more affordable than weekend departures. 

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5. Don’t overlook alternate airports

The benefits of flying in or out of alternative airports.

For those who reside in cities with multiple airports, exploring options from alternate airports can lead to significant savings. The same concept applies to the destination you’re looking to fly into. Check out the surrounding regions’ airports and flight offerings to see if there is a better option. As an added bonus, you may get to explore an additional area you might not have otherwise — just be sure to factor in any additional travel expenses to these airports when comparing prices.

6. The best time to book flights

Check during the “off” hours.

While the day of the week can be crucial, the time of day you make your flight reservation can also influence the ticket price. Many experts suggest booking flights in the early morning or late evening, as airlines tend to release new fares and seat inventory during these hours. Keep an eye out for fare updates around 1 a.m. or 11 p.m., when they are more likely to be available.

7. Sign up for fare alerts

Be proactive.

To stay ahead in the game, consider signing up for fare alerts from various booking websites and airlines. These alerts will keep you informed about any price drops or special deals to your chosen destinations. Popular platforms like Google Flights and FlightHub offer customizable fare alerts, helping you snag discounted flights as soon as they become available. It’s important to also act quickly, as fares change frequently and without warning. 

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