The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Myths, facts and advice on how to snag that supercheap seat.

ByABC News
March 25, 2008, 10:07 AM

March 26, 2008 — -- You: "Hi. My name is Joe."

Crowd: "Hi, Joe!"

You: "I am an online airfare addict. It has been four hours and 22 minutes since my last travel Web site visit."

Admit it -- you, me, everyone is obsessed with finding that most elusive of deals: incredibly cheap airfare for our very next trip.

And that's no surprise. Clearly, we are a deal-oriented society. I know this firsthand. As a newlywed, I temporarily lost my mind and agreed to accompany my bride to my first-ever "Semi-Annual Sale" at Nordstrom's. My first -- and last. But after the shock of watching elbows fly like a Stanley Cup playoff game wore off, I learned something: There is an art to finding a deal (no Trumpian pun intended).

Now let me share what I know about when to find great airfare deals.

Let's begin by pointing out that the airlines know a lot about our buying habits. For example, according to travel industry statistics, they know we shop at four to six Web sites before we actually make our airline ticket purchase. They also know we aren't anywhere near as loyal to airlines as we used to be. The reason is a simple, two-part equation:

Our goal: find cheap airline tickets.

Airline goal: sell expensive airline tickets.

Now, this is where the games begin -- and where many of the most popular air travel shopping myths start. Among my favorite myths:

Here's something you should know: The people who espouse these gems have no clue when it comes to how an airline decides to price its flights.

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But I can help you sort fact from fiction. First of all, I have the luxury of having one of the world's largest databases of current and historical airfares at my fingertips. And that means, after reviewing millions of airfares that can (and do) change daily, and after writing software programs to slice and dice this information, I am uniquely qualified to answer the question: "When is the best time to buy a cheap airline ticket?"