Finding the best international airfare requires a different approach than finding the optimal domestic airfare. Market conditions differ between international and domestic segments of the airline industry.Here’s what you need to know to snare the best international airfare deals:
When to Buy Plane Tickets
Cheap Air analyzed 2013 flight booking patterns to determine the optimal time to purchase international tickets. Its analysis revealed significant differences in price patterns between international and domestic flights. Less flights typically serve international routes and less seats are available overall. That’s why the rationale behind dropping prices as departure time nears for domestic flights, unfilled seats, doesn’t usually apply to international destinations.
It’s important to understand the capacity and demand for particular international routes in scoping out the pricing fluctuations to determine the best time to buy. Cheap Air found the best time to purchase tickets for African destinations is 166 days out, Europe 151 days, Asia 129 days, the Caribbean 101 days, Mexico 89 days, and the South Pacific 70 days.
How to Peg the Cheapest Fares
According to USA today, the lowest fare days to fly to Europe are Tuesday and Wednesday, while a Sunday flight tacks an average of $40 onto your bill.
When choosing an airline, take care to factor in the cost of extras, now standard for many airlines. A $30 bag fee and a $3 seat selection fee on a nonstop flight add $66 to a roundtrip fare. A true cost comparison adds those extras in when contrasting with a flight free of such fees.
In markets like Asia, back-to-back ticketing may help you achieve the lowest fares. As Air Timetable explains, back-to-back ticketing means buying a sale fare to a destination close to your intended vacation and a local flight to bridge the gap.
One Traveler’s Experience
My son planned to fly from Dublin to Washington, D.C., this summer and then make his way to school in Boston. The cost of the one-way flight was outrageous, so he researched alternatives. For the same price as a Dublin to Washington, D.C., flight, he found he could fly from Dublin to Tokyo to Boston. Since he had a spare week and sports a healthy sense of adventure, he took advantage of the Tokyo airfare sale. Of course, he is also paying for the vacation extension, but even with that cost factored in, he’s content with getting a flight to Tokyo thrown in for the same price as he’d otherwise pay to fly home.