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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

How far in advance should you book airline tickets

One of the most frequently asked questions by travellers across the world is how far in advance should one book their airline tickets. Determining the best time to book a flight depends on a number of factors. It is also one of the most important decisions that travellers need to make as the ever changing airfares can result in a huge fare rise within a matter of days. One of the biggest myths of booking fares in advance is that if one books their tickets around 6 weeks in advance, he/ she would have access to the cheapest fares. While this assumption might hold true in some cases, it is generally not the case for most domestic and international routes. The actual window for booking the cheapest flights might have been 6 weeks at one point of time, but today, it can easily go up to 24 weeks prior to the date of departure.

Sure there might be cases where travellers simply refuse to book tickets at a particular fare, thereby forcing the airline’s hand to reduce the fare even when the journey is within the matter of weeks. Moreover, the airline might come up with a sale if it finds that bookings for a particular route does not materialize as per their liking. But hoping and waiting for such fares is the surest way to end up paying exorbitant fares on your air travels. Ideally, air passengers should book tickets well in advance and hope for the best. Airlines across the world have been raising air fares like crazy and major fare jumps are known to take place within the matter of minutes. Therefore, the safest bet would be to book a ticket well in advance in order to prevent ones self from becoming a victim of these fare jumps.

This brings us back to the evergreen question – how far in advance should the airline tickets be booked? To answer the question satisfactorily, we have broken down the various travel routes and offered the best window for each route separately.
- Travellers flying to Asia should begin to book their tickets as early as possible. Generally, the lowest fares open up about 8 months before the date of departure and disappear extremely fast. Moreover, when you count the number of travellers like yourself planning to visit Asia and add the number of Asians who are likely to make the same trip, the numbers are at a great disadvantage for you. This means that the best fares are likely to disappear almost instantly.
- Flying to South America is almost similar to flying to Asia. Moreover, the concept of low cost airlines hardly exists in South America. As a result, flyers begin to book their tickets about 5 months in advance when flying to South America in order to save themselves from the exorbitant last minute fares.
- Flights to the USA and Canada can be booked about 2 months in advance. Due to the number of connections available from all over the world and the massive competition among airlines for almost all major US routes, getting the right fare is quite possible when you book your journeys up to 2 months prior to the date of departure.
- Travellers flying to the Caribbean Islands have the luxury of booking their flight tickets only 3 weeks in advance to get access to the lowest fares. However, if one plans to visit the Caribbean during the peak tourist seasons, they would be well advised to book their flight tickets as soon as their itineraries get finalized.
- Getting the lowest fare on a flight to Africa should be possible up to one month before the date of departure. One of the biggest advantages that flyers have while travelling to Africa is that the demand for air travel us much lesser when compared to continents such as North America, Europe and Asia. As a result, it is possible to get favourable just 4 weeks prior to the date of departure.
- Flights to Europe should always be booked at least 2 months in advance if passengers wish to get the best possible fares.

Remember that the timelines provided are just rough estimates based on the current status of air fares. It is quite possible for the fares to change at a moments notice. This might especially occur during peak seasons or when a particular route receives an unusually large demand due to some event or function.

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