Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Travel Now
by Ihla Crowley
Drifter Sister

When to buy, when to fly (part 1)

One of the questions I am most frequently asked (and have wondered myself) is “When is the best time to buy an airline ticket?”

It would be great to have an insight into how the airlines work, wouldn’t it? I have also heard rumors that you can get better deals if you fly on certain days. Recently I found a credible source that provides insight into these mysteries, and offers simple guidelines we can all follow ( Domestic and international guidelines differ; this month and next, we’ll just be talking about domestic.

I think most of us realize that prices increase dramatically within 14 days of departure. So the first rule is, unless you can’t help it, don’t wait til the last minute.

Next, airlines start releasing their cheaper seats between three and four months before departure – any earlier and you’re probably taking the risk of paying too much. So the first rule is, start browsing 3½ months out, and purchase prior to 14 days before departure. This is a pretty big window, so next let’s talk about the best day and time to make the purchase.

Turns out (according to, each week one or two airlines will file an airfare sale late Monday evening. During the morning hours of the next day, other airlines will scramble to match these fares on the routes of the initiating airline(s). So at about 3pm Eastern Time is when all the matching discounted seat prices hit the reservation systems – this is when the maximum number of cheap seats are available to consumers. These airline sales tend to last for only three days, so late on Thursday the sale prices are yanked. So if you’re shopping on the weekend you’re likely paying too much for a domestic airline ticket.

To summarize: Start browsing 3½ months out, and purchase on a Tuesday, 3pm Eastern Time, prior to 14 days before departure. It’s pretty simple, really, if you know the trick.

Next month we’ll talk about when to fly, and I’ll pass along a couple other tips on how to minimize your ticket price.

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