When is the best time to buy tickets?

Have you ever been shopping for a plane ticket online, found the ideal itinerary at a fair price, returned the next day to purchase your fare and found that the price has skyrocketed? It’s happened to everyone I know, and if it makes you feel better, it even happens to me once in a while. But when is the best time to buy tickets? Should I wait longer and hope that the price goes down? Should I have booked last weekend?

Unfortunately, predicting airfare trends and knowing when to purchase tickets is like black magic. There is no science involved, nor ISO flowchart to follow, nor oracle to consult. Predictability and common sense go straight out the window, replaced with speculation, rumors and a great deal of finger pointing when things go south.

But there are a few tricks you can use to help you on your journey to Eden. A variety of online tools, combined with some common sense and a little patience can almost help garner a fair price on the ticket that you purchase and a little peace of mind. And if you’re lucky, you may even get a great price.

Below, we’ll show you what to keep your eyes open for among market trends and a few online tools to help in your journey, as well as basic timing and logistic rules. With those and a little patient planning, you should be in shipshape for your next ticket to see grandma next Easter.

But I’ll tell you this right now. There is no foolproof code for when the cheapest time to buy tickets is. Neither myself nor any travel agent has a crystal ball that says when ticket prices should and will go down. But we keep our fingers on the pulse of the market, know roughly how much a city pair should cost and know damn well when a fare is on sale.

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10 tips for smarter flying