Holidays - Don't book now, book later!

Sarah Willingham, Consumer Champion and Skyscanner reveals the best time to book flights and average fares

Comprehensive data analysis by leading global travel search site Skyscanner has revealed when to book flights and average fares, in order to help customers to save money on their travel in 2014.


The Skyscanner study follows research that found that 88%* of travellers admitted they did not know, or were not sure, when the optimum time for booking flights was, while a further 79% wouldn’t know on first glance if a flight price offered good value.

Skyscanner’s analysis revealed that the cheapest flight tickets from the UK are typically available five weeks in advance of travel, however three years of booking data also shows that price patterns can vary by type of airline and between short and long haul travel and so is very much destination dependent .

Flights to ever popular Spain were at their cheapest just five weeks prior to departure; however flights to USA should be booked more than four months (21 weeks) before departure.  Customers looking to book flight to Turkey should be able to find the best prices 13 weeks before departure, while the best prices for flights to neighbouring Greece can be found just three weeks in advance.

However Skyscanner’s Mary Porter advises caution when booking close to departure:

“Although we found that for many destinations the best prices are available three or four weeks prior to departure, it is also important to note that prices can really increase at the last minute, especially on budget airlines. 

“Customers need to understand that they are taking a gamble if they wait until closer to departure before booking and may find that they have missed the best flight prices.  Our analysis suggests that the best way to find a flight at the best price is to plan ahead and do your research.”

The study found that researching flights was difficult for many, with almost 80% of travellers admitting they wouldn’t know on first glance if a fare offered good value for money.  To assist them, Skyscanner has provided the average August fares for the top 10 most popular summer destinations:

There are also some simple rules to bear in mind to get the best price:

  1. Book smart: Avoiding peak season travel and flying at less popular hours of the day, can really help to lower costs.
  2. Be flexible:  Costs to different destinations can vary significantly depending on the airlines operating that route and the UK airports offering these flights. If you are planning your next trip but are open to destinations, running a search to ‘everywhere’ can help find the countries that offer the best value flights at any time.
  3. Compare and contrast: Using a travel comparison site like Skyscanner allows you to compare the widest range of airlines and online travel agents, so you’ll be able to see where you can get the best deal.
  4. Track prices Skyscanner’s analysis has found that keeping an eye on the flight prices a few months in advance of travel, is the best way to find a good value flight. Using a flight tracker price alert service, either by email or via the app can help monitor when prices drop on a chosen route.

Mary Porter concluded, “There is no golden rule or set date when all flights are at their cheapest. However our hope is that by sharing our knowledge and providing customers with the tools to do their own research, they feel confident in making an informed decision when it comes to booking flights”.

Skyscanner offers price alerts on all routes to enable flights to be monitored by email. The Skyscanner app offers widgets for Android, Live Tiles for Windows Phone and “watch” functionality for IoS, all of which allow customers to track the latest price changes on a chosen route.