Booking your flights in advance vs at the last minute, strategies differ among travellers. Which one works best and in which case? We give you some answers in this article.

 

Booking in advance but at the right time

Airlines practice “Yield Management”, which means the cost of your flight ticket will vary depending mainly on the number of seats left in the plane, the travel period, the day of the flight and oil prices. On certain flights, there can be more than 20 different price categories just for the economic class. There are many chances that you didn’t bought your ticket the same price as your in-flight neighbour did!

Airlines aim to fill up the plane with passengers paying the most for their ticket. There is no point for them to keep selling tickets at a reduced price considering that passengers might be willing to pay more. If the demand for a particular flight is high, the price of the ticket will quickly go up.

By booking your flights in advance, you make sure you’ll have access to the cheapest ticket, before the prices go up. It is also a good opportunity to get more flexible tickets without paying too much additional costs.

Two flight schedules released per year

Airlines usually release their new flight schedules twice a year. The spring and summer flight schedule is released between September & October. Between April & May, the autumn and winter flight schedule is released.

Low-cost airlines sometimes release their flights schedule at slightly different times of the year than standard airlines and could have more than 2 releases per year.

If you’re travelling during school holidays, we suggest you to book your flight 6 to 7 months in advance. If you’re flying outside of the peak season, you should make your booking 2 to 3 months in advance.
 
> Find cheap flights in advance

Waiting for deals and special offers

Some might be tempted to wait for deals and special offers before booking their tickets. Although nothing ensures that the flight you want will be affected, when it is, you can save a lot. Special offers include free tickets for children, X% off your ticket, etc.

 

Last minute flights: less chances to find cheap tickets

If the airline does not release any deals or special offers, it will be difficult for you to find cheap flights when booking at the last minute unless if you have a look at travel agencies offering flight + hotel packages. In order to make sure they sell the tickets they already booked for a flight, travel agencies can offer last minute discounts from 50 to 75%. However, you’ll need to be flexible on your travel dates and destination.
 
> Find cheap last minute flights
 

Additional tips to find cheap flights

Whether you’re booking your flight in advance or at the last minute, you’ll have more chances to find cheap tickets by travelling during the week (tuesday, wednesday and thursday). We’ll also suggest you to opt for early or late flights which are less popular and thus sometimes cheaper.

Don’t forget to have a look at indirect flights. If most people will choose direct flights (more convenient), it could be interesting to spend a bit more time travelling and save on your ticket. If you have several hours to wait between your two flights, this can be an opportunity to visit the city. Some airports enable you to go out without visa, make sure you’re able to do so beforehand. Visit our blog to find other tips to get the best fare when booking your flights.

 

Booking your flights in advance vs at the last minute: Match Results

Opt for booking your flights in advance. If booking your ticket as soon as the flight schedule is released is not required, especially if you plan to travel outside of the peak season, it is highly recommended in order to find the cheapest tickets.

The most important thing is to book your flight at the right time depending on your travel period. You’ll need to check the flight rates frequently, as it could go down momentarily thanks to special offers from the airline but also for example if a group of passengers cancel their booking.

Booking in advance

  • The goods
    • Access to the cheapest tickets
    • Possibility of choosing a flight on high-demand days (such as Friday) at a more affordable price than at the last minute
  • The bads
    • The first (& cheapest) tickets that are sold are non-refundable and non-exchangeable
    • Need to anticipate a long time in advance, especially when travelling during school holidays
Last minute booking

  • The goods
    • Possibility of benefiting from special offers from airlines as well as discounts from travel agencies (flight + hotel)
    • Exchangeable and refundable tickets (under certain conditions)
  • The bads
    • Flight Tickets are (usually) more expensive
    • No assurance that the desired flight is still available


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