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When is the Best Time to Buy First Class Airlines Tickets

September 2, 2016 Nency Willims 0Comment

There have been many credible surveys done on the best time to buy a first class airline ticket taking into account hundreds of millions of airfares and after studying thousands of routes. These surveys attempt to unveil the most sought after answer – “When is the best time to buy first class ticket?” – Particularly for first class and business class.

Securing a discounted first class ticket is no less than achieving the most difficult feat. Fares are dynamic and keep fluctuating which makes spotting the right one at the right time an ardent task; quite like hitting a moving target.

Several popular airfare studies break down important data points to outline some basic facts about the best time to book a cheap airfare ticket. This is particularly helpful while booking a cheap first class or a business class ticket as this may cover 50-60% of the cost of a trip.

According to an interesting finding, fare for each individual trip changes 4.5 days on an average and around 80 times from the time the trip goes on sale. This is a significant drop when it comes to a business or a first class ticket as it is all the more significant for your budget.

Please be advised that what may be applicable for an economy or a premium economy class may not apply to business class and first class booking.

Here are some of the key factors to consider while booking a first class airlines ticket at low price that covers airfare trends, prime booking window, best and the worst times to book a first class airlines ticket, seasonal trends, etc.

Taking The First Dib to Buy First Class Airlines Tickets

Before we delve into these timeframes in detail, a popular notion that needs clarification is that booking as early as possible is cheapest as well – Not necessarily. Most airlines open sale of ticket about 11 months in advance, and there are chances that the fares stand pretty steadfast and high. Airlines are not in a hurry then and not aggressively pushing sales through discounts. If you book early, its almost certain that you end up paying a premium price.

Wider Options Between 4-6 Months for First Class Tickets

There’s a broad choice of seats and flights available during this window as you are still ahead in the line, however, the market may not have warmed up to discounts. You can choose your preferential seat if you are flying in a group, fly at a preferred time, pick up the best itinerary between cities but you still end up paying more cash during this window.

Prime Booking Window

For domestic flights, that sweet spot to purchase a ticket is 1-3 months prior to departure and for international flights, it’s 47 days before your trip. Tickets prices drop slowly and steadily and are at the lowest between 27 days and 114 days. This window which is in between 1 and 4 months is what is called the prime booking window and is often referred to as the “peace of mind window” as well.  You can nab a good bargain but if you miss this time, you may end up paying for more.

Stretching Your Luck to Get Cheap First Class Tickets

This is getting close by the day and the first choice seats may no longer be available in these 2-3 weeks. But you still have some decent choices of flights and seating and this is the best window after the prime window above.

Off The Deep End

Once you reach 1-2 weeks in advance, the prices will be steep and there will be lesser choices but with your chances of grabbing a seat are not altogether doomed.

This Is As Far As It Gets

If you attempt to book a first class airlines ticket in the nick of time then its all up to your luck, whether there are still any seats left. Options are also far too constricted and the prices shoot up to around 35%.

Here’s a season wise time frame for the best time to buy first class airlines ticket.

Prime booking window for U.S. Domestic Flights

Best time to buy air tickets within the US continent as per seasons:

  • Winter: 60 – 65 days in advance

Christmas and New Year’s are among the most expensive travel periods for economy or premium economy but school holidays work in favor of business class as business class bookings tend to slow down and hence sell at discount rates.

  • Spring: 75 – 90 days in advance

There are no major holidays during spring, however, the industry warms up to the spring break during March and April.

  • Summer: 40 – 50 days in advance

This is the most popular season and July tops the month chart for travel. Business class and first class flights may not necessarily be cheaper.

Booking An International First Class Airlines Ticket

International flights from the US are less expensive at least 2 months in advance before the travel dates.

There seems to be a drastic change in this route in terms of the optimal booking window which earlier used to be 7-9 months in advance that has shrunk to just 3 months this year.

There seems to be a major development in the trans-Pacific routes which has seen abundance in the seats and therefore more seats are up for grab for longer and a price dip is in favor of the customers. This has shrunken the best date booking window even closer.

Here’s a continent-wise list of the right time to book flights from the US.

  • Central America: 60 days
  • South America: 80 days
  • Canada: 60 days
  • Mexico: 60 days
  • Caribbean: 75 days
  • Asia: 90 days
  • Europe:100 days
  • Africa: 120 days
  • Middle East: 120 days

Special Tips For Business Class And First Class Booking:

  • Business flyers do not fly on weekends. Booking on the weekend adds further to discount. Peak business days are between Monday (morning) and Friday (evening) if you want to purchase a business class fare.
  • Sign up for a premium credit card like American Express Platinum, Chase Sapphire Preferred that offer two-for-one specials on airline tickets in Business or First Class.
  • Some co-branded cards like the American United Mileage Plus Card offer a big bonus on signing up which may be around 50,000 miles that can cover half the miles of a decent trip in a first class. Also, once you meet your minimum spends (around $3,000) get a second card (preferably the one with transferable points like American express or Chase Ultimate) for your partner or spouse. The new sign-up points combined with a 50,000-mile bonus on the first card are enough to cover a decent first-class round-trip.
  • Sign up for an airline’s loyalty program and get a complimentary upgrade
  • Look out for an email a week before from the airline intimating about an upgrade. Many of these upgrades like that on Qatar airlines ask for a fixed price with no uncertainty in upgrading.

Nency Willims

Content Writer at FareMachine LLC
I’m Nency Willims, a New York based travel writer by profession and lover of world cultures, languages, souls, food, oceans, wild spaces and urban places by nature.

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