Most people aren’t sure when the best time is to shop for plane tickets. Many flyers search for plane tickets as soon as they have the money and the time to compare prices. This approach is bound to backfire. You can score some fantastic deals on plane tickets if you buy at a specific time.

The Best Time to Buy Plane Tickets

Studies have shown plane ticket prices are the cheapest on Tuesdays. Specifically, the optimal time to buy is Tuesday afternoon. This is because most airlines match competitors’ fare sales on Tuesday mornings/afternoons. Like most other working people, airline officials arrive at work on Monday morning. They determine airfare prices partially according to the number of seats sold during the weekend. By Tuesday mornings each airline is savvy to competitor prices for specific routes. They adjust fares by the afternoon.

So, hold off on buying your plane ticket until the afternoon or evening hours on Tuesdays! Ideally, you will compare prices around 3 PM Eastern. Waiting this long gives airline ticket pricing professionals enough time to adjust their prices to match or beat those of the competition.

It is worth noting there is some conflicting data regarding the best day of the week to buy. A 2016 study conducting by the Airline Reporting Corporation and Expedia determined the best day to purchase plane tickets is Sunday. This study was based on billions of passenger’s flights between the start of 2016 and October of the same year. The finding holds especially true if one is booking more than three weeks ahead of the flight. In general, weekends are a good time to buy plane tickets. Just be sure to avoid purchasing on Friday as there is a massive uptick in travel bookings on the last business day of the week.

The Window is Small

If you don’t act by Friday, there is a good chance your chance at a cheap plane ticket will vanish. Plane tickets typically increase by Friday as the government requires plane ticket sales to be available for at least three days. So be sure to set aside some time between Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning to compare plane ticket prices and find the lowest price.

Keep in mind the lowest fares will be nabbed fairly quickly. If you do not act promptly, there is a good chance the cheap fares will be gone by the end of the week. If you find an excellent price on Tuesday afternoon, TAKE IT! Do not wait a day or even half a day to see if the prices continue to slide. If you would like to track a flight price in increments, make use of Google Flights. This service alerts those searching for plane tickets if the price of a selected flight is about to rise. The service also shows the anticipated rate hike to boot.

How Far in Advance Should Plane Tickets be Purchased?

Plenty of people book their plane ticket six months in advance. Some book a full year in advance as they assume they will score the best price by purchasing as early as possible. This is not always true. Studies have shown the best flight prices are obtained when purchased two months prior to the date of departure. Though this finding is not true of every single flight, it is true for the vast majority. If you plan on flying out of the country, it is best to shop between five and a half months and one and a half months prior to your date of departure.

If you are shopping for a flight that will take place on or around a major holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, be more conservative by booking early. There is considerably more demand for flights around the holidays. Don’t take any chances by waiting until two months or less before the date you desire to fly. You just might find the holiday travelers have scooped up all the reasonably priced tickets by that point.