When’s the best time to buy a ticket?

Kulula's flying 101 plane with the notes on the side

Low cost airline Kulula's "Flying 101" plane

A recent article published in the Guardian in the UK suggested that the best time to buy a plane ticket (if you’re wanting the cheapest fare) is 8 weeks before departure. This conclusion was reached after a lot of heavy research with mathematical equations, apparently this one:  ∏A = gUG + min(k-g, (1-g)(1-r)) .

We decided to be more practical and check out the fares now for Christmas, as apposed to what they’d been a few weeks back, to check if this were true. All the price links go through to our website so you can browse dates which suit you. This is what we’ve found:

London flight prices

A few weeks back (14 September), a flight direct to London from Johannesburg would have set you back around R6500, pretty good for Christmas actually. Today, 9 weeks before Christmas, the fares now of around R5600, a good R900 less than a month or so back.

New York flight prices

New York over Christmas is usually in the region of about R10,000, so browsing for fares online, one expects to find that, but today, a check on fares shows prices of around R8500, a good R1500 cheaper than expected. This +/-8 week rule definitely seems to be checking out!

Australia flight prices

December is the highest season of the year for getting to Australia, mid-summer, Christmas, school holidays – all very good reasons for the airlines to push their prices to the regular R11,000 mark. 9 Weeks before sees prices of R9154 return, who knows how long this will last?

South America flight prices

This is an expensive destination in the Southern Hemisphere summer. Prices regularly sky-rocket over the R11,000 mark in December. We see no exceptions to the 8 weeks rule with prices dropping to around R9600 return, a bargain for December travel.

Asia flight Prices

South East Asia is riotously popular with South Africans over December with flight prices remaining high over that period. Bangkok and Hong Kong prices will climb well over the R8000 mark from Joburg, more often closer to R10,000. 8 weeks before, we see prices around R7300, not hugely cheaper, but quite possibly the best they’re going to be this year.

So it seems the 8 week rule definitely does work, at least in most cases. Have a surf around to find the best deal for you.

Book Cheap Flights

For the best flight deals online!

We'd love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below:

Image from floorsixtyfour on Flickr

Our Readers Comments

  1. Fascinating… I wonder if this is always true, and we’re usually just too scared to wait and find out? I’m going on honeymoon in mid-March, and the thought of waiting till mid-Jan to book tickets feels like leaving it too late, but maybe I’ll do your test (check out tickets now and closer to Jan) and see what happens!

  2. Hey Nick! Wow, that is really handy research! So many people wonder when is the best time to book and usually one thinks that the earliest possible the better (even that might make you miss out on those short notice specials airlines release when they notice that their flights are not as booked as they expected at a certain time) but taking the research from The Guardian together with yours, this sounds really plausible! Thanks for sharing this info!

  3. That’s an interesting research and i will also be trying this for booking a flight about 8 weeks ago.
    Hopefully it will be saving me some amount.

    Thanks for sharing the valuable inforamtion.

  4. Thanks for the sharing this information to us.
    Now i can understand when should i book my ticket.

  5. Wow, that is really handy research, tips and reviews helpful when you are planning your own great adventure.

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks for the great feedback, and really glad you enjoyed the read.

      Happy Travels 🙂

  6. hanks for the sharing this information to us. You have made easy for customers to books tickets and also to know where to find the cheap tickets.

Have something to say...