When to book airfare and get the best deal can be a quite confusing. Besides getting a good deal, you’d like to lock those dates in early so you can move on and just look forward to your awesome vacation.
Read on to learn some tips and tricks to getting the best deal and when is the best time to book airfare to Jamaica – or anywhere.
Not always. It would be great if it were that simple but unfortunately the airlines count on the fact that a lot of people want to be booked so they know that the dates, pick their seats and be locked in for their trip.
Booking early isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are times when you will get the best deal – but don’t automatically assume that booking 10 months in advance will save you money.
This year – we did book early – and so far it looks like we saved 45% by booking early compared to booking 64 days out!
However, last year we also booked early and we paid 20% too much than if we had booked 90 days in advance.
Sometimes… Every once in a while the best price is around 45-90 days out from departure.
If you get below 60 days before departure, it’s very unlikely the cost will go down further from here and it’s best to go ahead and book.
So, how do you get the best price on airfare? Keep reading and follow our steps to get the best deal!
Step 1: Narrow down your dates, but be flexible!
Try your best to narrow down the absolute best month for you to go on vacation. Consider kids schedules, work schedules, seasonal cost differences and of course – budget and number of nights.
Once you have that narrowed down, it’s time to do some homework and be a bit flexible.
On most airlines, flying to Jamaica on a Tuesday, or Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly – followed by Saturday and Monday. Thursday, Friday and Sunday are typically the highest priced to fly into Jamaica.
Tuesday and Wednesday also happen to be the cheapest days to fly out of Jamaica as well but Sunday and Monday are expensive days to return on.
Thus – if your schedule can accomodate – flying out on Tuesday or Wednesday and returning on the same days of the week can have the cheapest airfare.
There are exceptions! For example – last year flying back on the day before, the day of, or the day after Halloween was much, much more expensive than flying back on Monday the same week.
Step 2: Nail down those dates!
Now that you have a good month picked out it’s time to start exploring the airfare websites.
This is a lot easier if you have a specific airline you prefer to fly – or – in our case, there’s only one airline with a direct flight (Delta) from Atlanta and they only have 2-3 flights per day.
If this is the case, then I personally just use the airlines website. However, if you’re in a location where you have several options – or will have to make a connection anyway, then an aggregator site like Kayak.com or Google Flights can be very helpful.
Using these tools, start searching for various weeks in your range.
Be Flexible! See what happens if you return a day sooner – or – even better – a day later!
Also be flexible on the flight times – flying early morning can be a lot cheaper than mid-morning – plus you get there earlier!
For return flights – it gets a little more complicated as most of the flights are in the afternoon so you just have to check to see which one is best. I have seen a return flight 45 minutes later cost $150 more so you have to look.
This exercise should allow you to nail down specific dates for your vacation.
By now you should know which dates to avoid completely and which dates are good.
This may seem like a lot of work – but in my experience, this exercise can save you as much as 25-30% off airfare – no matter when you book, or where you are traveling. In our case – this usually saves us enough money to pay for 1-2 additional nights at Couples.
Step 3: The wait…
Ok – you now know the best time to travel to get the best deal so let’s buy those tickets!
Not so fast – you have found the best time to travel, but this may not be the best time to buy!
Using Google Flights or Kayak they will give you a recommendation as to whether they think the price will rise or fall and if it’s a good time to buy.
These guides are OK – and even GREAT if you have never travelled to Jamaica or out of the country much.
However, they seem to be tied more to seasonality and I find that they miss the supply/demand changes that are more subtle – for example – normally there will not be much of a price difference between a 1:00 flight and a 2:00 flight – UNLESS – the 1:00 flight has started to fill up and they need more people on the 2:00 flight.
If you have no idea what a good ticket price is from your departure city, then using these guides can a be a great tool for saving money and I would definitely rely on them to tell me when to buy.
However, if you know about what you should pay and have a strict budget to stick to, then the best thing you can do is start checking the prices daily.
I’m getting tired of checking/waiting – nothing is changing!
If you’ve been checking the prices for a while and not seeing very many changes at all and you’re getting tired/anxious – then go ahead and purchase those tickets!
The reason is in some non-competitive markets, prices are very locked in and so waiting may not save you a whole lot of money.
I’m a penny pincher so I have no problem checking, checking, and checking again to get the lowest possible price!
I also know what I should be paying and refuse to pay any more so I wait…. and I keep checking…
(BTW – this isn’t as bad as it sounds – Delta keeps my booking search saved so it only take 2 clicks to see prices)
Checking daily and in competitive markets, you will see price changes for the same flights that appear randomly and can disappear quickly – sometimes the price spikes up, but then comes back down slowly, or even very rapidly!
Prices can fluctuate as much as 10% from day to day – or week to week depending on the airline and seem to be closely tied to supply/demand for certain times.
Step 4: Remember to check the departure flight too!
There it is – the low price you’ve been expecting! Ready to pounce?
Almost… Make sure to check the departure flight – every once in a while airlines will suddenly release a “Sale” – but if you check the details they may be directing you to a cheaper, non-stop flight or one that is at an odd time.
For example – I opened the Delta app to find a fare $100 cheaper! but when I clicked I realized they had added an early morning (8:00am) return flight and that was the cheaper fare… Sorry – not getting up at 4:00am for the return flight!
Currently – there is a return flight that is non-stop – this flight is $140 cheaper than the non-stop flight and you think you’re seeing a great price…
So keep waiting and searching.
Step 5: Pounce!
You found it – this one feels good. The lowest price you’ve seen in 3 months.
It’s time, you earned it – book that flight and Treat Yo Self…
And never, never look at the cost of airfare ever again (until next year!)
….Just remember how much you paid this year so you can do it all again next year.