When to book

Whats the best time to book a flight?

When should I book a flight? Some websites will tell you a Tuesday afternoon, others a Saturday. “Between April 28 to May 4 says another, and “49 days in advance.”

In fact it’s much more complicated than that. It’s the job of airline yield or revenue managers to maximise the revenue from each flight, and these are the people who set the price. Yield managers divide all the seats on a particular flight into different price levels, what the industry calls price buckets. In times of high demand, an airline will assign less seats in the cheapest price bucket. As the lower priced buckets dry up, passengers are left with more expensive options.

Yield managers monitor and adjust the number of seats in each bucket. If a particular flight is experiencing lower demand than expected, the yield manager might tip more seats into the cheaper price bucket. Some travellers suggest if you wait until the last minute you can score a bargain airfare since airlines will drop prices to fill empty seats, but that’s highly unlikely in today’s world. As the yield management strategy suggests, the cheaper seats are the first to go, and those who need to fly at short notice pay more.

Airlines earn far more revenue per seat from late-booking passengers. If an airline was to discount seats at the last minute in order to fill them it would compromise that lucrative business model. Skyscanner’s Best Time to Book Analysis and Momondo’s Flight Insight are valuable tools that can help you pin down the best time to book flights.

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