Air Fare Deals

When is the best time to buy your airplane ticket?

A lot has changed when it comes to buying an airline ticket.

You no longer need to go to an airline ticket office, wait in line, and buy a paper ticket.

These days, airline tickets are almost exclusively purchased online. And the ‘when’ of buying an airplane ticket has changed too.

Here’s a slightly different version of a story we put together for the Lonely Planet site with tips for timing your flight purchase.

Monitor before you buy

If you can, start your hunt for the best airfare well before the date you want to fly. That will help you recognize and respond when fares dip or begin to rise.

You may not get the absolute lowest fare, but you’ll know that you’re getting a fair fare.

For international trips, that means starting to monitor fares up to 6 to 7 months in advance and purchasing 3 to 5 months in advance, says Haley Berg, Lead Economist at booking site Hopper.

When looking for domestic flights, start searching fares 3 to 4 months before you plan to take a trip, says Berg, and purchase 1 to 2 months before takeoff.

And if you can’t plan that far ahead, “the main thing to remember is the 21-day rule,” says Scott Keyes of airfare search site Going.

He notes that most fares include in the fine print an advance purchase requirement, which says that the cheapest fare is only available if booked at least, say, 21 days before travel. “On Day 20, that previously cheapest fare expires, and the new cheapest fare is often $100 or $200 more expensive.”

 Price tracking tools, services, and apps, such as Google Flights, Kayak, Hopper, Skyscanner, and many others do a good job of monitoring fares for you and alerting you to deals and ideal times to buy.  

Go ahead and use one of the flight search engines to compare flights across many airlines, says Keyes, but once you find the flight you want, it’s best to purchase your ticket directly from the airline.


 “Certain legal protections only apply when you book directly with the airline,” says Keyes. Most notably the US federal government’s 24-hour rule requires airlines to give you a full cash refund within 24 hours of purchase if you change your mind about buying that ticket because, say, you found a better fare or your plans change right away.

Also, not having a go-between can mean fewer hassles if there is a weather delay or some other problem on the day of your scheduled flight.

Booking myths

Airlines constantly rejigger fares according to a myriad of algorithms that can change in seconds, minutes, or hours.

So, while there may not be a best or cheapest time or day to book your flight, there are some best times to take your flight, says Keyes, “Business travelers tend to avoid flying Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, so airfares are often 30% to 40% cheaper on those days.”

Beware of cheap fares

Many of the airlines’ cheapest fares come with multiple stops, super long layovers, and stricter rules for refunds and rebooking. Others may impose extra fees for everything from choosing your seat to printing out a boarding pass or putting a bag in the overhead bin. Be sure to check the fine print so you do not get surprised.

Get a Southwest Airlines Gift Card with these Fruit of the Loom sweats

(Photo courtesy Southwest and Fruit of the Loom)

Need to update your travel sweats?

Starting Wednesday, May 31, at 11 am Central Time, Fruit of The Loom will be offering a limited number of luxury sweat sets for $200 that come with a bonus perk: a $350 gift card for flights on Southwest Airlines.

Ordering details should pop up on when the promotion goes live.

Alaska Airlines’ subscription Flight Pass

If you fly a lot between cities in California, Nevada, and Arizona, Alaska Airlines has a deal for you.

Today Alaska Airlines is launching a new product called Flight Pass that is a subscription round-trip flight plan program for destinations across California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Prices start at just $49/month. 

Here’s how it works:

At, you can select one of six plans. Subscriptions last for a minimum of 12 months and flights can only be used by the person subscribing. Charges will be made to your credit card each month.

The program has two tiers: Flight Pass and Flight Pass Pro. And there are three package options within each tier. The Flight Pass program requires a booking be made 14 days in advance; the Flight Pass Pro program allows booking up to the time of departure.

Alaska says most flights in the Flight Pass zone are included in the subscription for a fare of $0.01, plus taxes and fees of about $14.60. But the carrier also notes that some flights may require a higher premium access fare. They don’t say which flights those are.

The Alaska Flight Pass program:

Pay $49/month and you’ll get one roundtrip flight every two months. Booking must be made 14 days in advance.

For $99/month, you’ll get one roundtrip flight every month. Booking must be made 14 days in advance.

Pay $189/month and you’ll be able to take two roundtrip flights each month. Booking must be made 14 days in advance.

The Alaska Airlines Flight Pass Pro program:

Pay $199/month and get one roundtrip flight every 2 months. Book any time up to departure.

Pay $299/month and get one roundtrip flight monthly. Book any time up to departure.

Pay $749/month and get two roundtrips monthly. Book any time up to departure.

Each month, Alaska Airlines will put flight credits into your account redeemable for round-trip tickets. The credits have a time limit for use and expire once your next batch of credits is deposited into your account. But, you don’t have to travel before your credit expires; you just need to make sure to redeem the credits for travel you will take within 90 days.

You can read more details of the program here. But keep in mind that Flight Pass credits can be redeemed for travel only on nonstop Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, or SkyWest flights within California and between California and Nevada or Arizona. Flights may be operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, or SkyWest Airlines, but no connections are permitted and roundtrips must be between two airports; no open-jaw itineraries.

Why do this now?

A lot of people are just easing back into travel. So it may seem odd to introduce a subscription program that commits the plan purchaser to a flight every month or every other month.

But Alex Corey, Alaska Airlines’ Managing Director of Business Development and Products said “We’re seeing signs that demand is recovering very quickly and we think this is a good time to launch a product like this.”

And what about travelers who live outside of the cities covered by the Flight Pass program like say, the carrier’s home state of Washington? Maybe they’d like a flight pass too. “We will explore that based on customer feedback after this initial launch,” said Corey. So stand by.

Fast fare sale on Breeze Airways

Did you skip the holiday travel mess, but still want to fly somewhere – cheap – and like the idea of secondary airports?

Then, Breeze Airways, which bills itself as the “Seriously Nice” low-far airline, has a quick sale for you.

The carrier, which launched in May 2021 and currently serves 18 markets, is running a two-day sale with $29 one-way fares on all routes.

The $29 fares “Nice” fares will be live at around 4 am ET Tuesday. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 pm ET on January 5, 2022, for travel between January 8 and February 28, 2022.

In addition, Breeze is offering a deal on what it calls its ‘Nicer’ fare amenities package, which it values at $94, for $22.

The package includes a checked bag ($29 value), a carry-on bag ($25 value), an extra legroom seat ($30 value), a drink and snack ($10 value), priority boarding, and 4% BreezePoints earned (compared to 2% with a Nice fare).  This Nicer fare package is for purchases made by January 5, 2022, for travel between January 8 and May 2, 2022. 

The small print:

The $29 Nice fare and $22 Nicer fare packages are available on all Breeze routes but seats and packages are limited and may not be available on all flights.

Breeze flies to and from secondary airports, including Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Hartford, Connecticut; Louisville International Airport (SDF), Norfolk International Airport (ORF), Akron-Canton Airport (CAK), Will Rogers Airport (OKC) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and others on this map. Service to some cities is set to start in February.

Gotta fly? BOGO sale on Alaska Airlines

Need – or want – to fly somewhere between now and October 31, 2020?

Then check out Alaska Airline’s 48-hour “BOGO” sale which is running now through 11:59 pm PT on August 9, 2020.

The deal: Buy one main cabin fare ticket and get a second one on the same itinerary for just the cost of taxes and fees.

This is ideal if you want to travel with someone and make sure there’s an empty seat in your row. Here area Alaska’s tips for making your booking:

  1. In the booking form on this page, enter your departure and arrival cities, dates, and 2 travelers.
  2. Enter GETTHEROW into the discount code field, and then click “Find flights” to start your search.
  3. Be sure to select your window and aisle seats.

Alaska Airline’s safety measures

Of course, whether you take a flight in the next few months may depend on a variety of health and safety issues, and your comfort level. It may also depend on how comfortable and confident you are about the safety measures your airline is taking.

With the kick-off of this BOBO fare, Alaska Airlines is also enhancing and extending its Next-Level Care safety measures for fall travel:

Here are the elements of Alaska Airline’s plans:

*The airline is capping capacity and will block middle seats through Oct. 31, 2020.

*Alaska’s Peace of Mind waivers (no change/cancellation fees) is being extended for tickets purchased by September 8, 2020.

*Effective now, Alaska Airlines has stricter mask policies, including:

All passengers over the age of two are required to wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth, with no exceptions; 

If a traveler does not wear a mask they will not be allowed to fly. This policy applies to the airline’s ticket counters, gate areas, and inflight.

Following the lead of some other airlines, Alaska Airlines passengers who refuse to wear a mask in-flight will lose flying privileges.

During a flight, Alaska Airlines flight attendants are authorized to give a “final notice” – in the form of a yellow card – to passengers who disregard or disobey the requirement to wear a mask or face covering.

Until now, that yellow card initiated a review process. But now, if someone is yellow-carded, Alaska will suspend flight privileges immediately for all future travel, with no review process.