Revealed: The cheapest time to book a flight out of Ireland
November is the cheapest month
Can you bag the best airfare by booking at a particular time? One search website claims to have found the answer.
Booking seven weeks in advance is the optimum time to secure a low fare, according to data crunched by global flight search website, Skyscanner.ie.
After analysing millions of flights out of Ireland, the company also found November to be the cheapest month in which to fly from this country, with savings of up to 14pc to be made against average price flights.
At the other end of the scale, the summer holiday month of July is by far the most expensive time to fly from Ireland, it found.
Advance booking criteria vary depending on the destination, Skyscanner says. Passengers can save up to 45pc on flights to Paris by booking seven weeks in advance, for example, while booking 17 weeks out leads to a 35pc saving on Amsterdam.
Data Source: Skyscanner.ie
Finding the best time to book a flight is not as simple as it appears, with airlines notoriously reluctant to reveal any insights into fare-setting policies.
Recent research by another fare search website, CheapAir.com, analysed 4.9 million trips taken in 2014, for example. It suggests 47 days as the optimum average advance booking period - roughly similar to Skyscanner's seven weeks.
However, tech solutions company Airlines Reporting Corporation has suggested 57 days ahead as the best time to book flights in the US.
There is no golden rule, in other words.
The destination, time of year and day of travel can all impact on airfares. Fuel prices can change. Weather, exchange rates, accidents and terrorist attacks can influence prices too. You might as well try to crack the stock market.
That said, there are some rules of thumb.
Generally speaking, based on several surveys, one to four months out seems to be the most reliable window for booking cheaper airfares.
Midweek is a cheaper time to fly, as you avoid rush hour periods for both business and leisure travellers (Friday to Sunday).
Comparing fares on airline websites as well as comparison sites like Skyscanner.ie and Kayak.co.uk makes basic shopping sense (don't forget to factor in the baggage fees, which can vary considerably).
You can set fare alerts to ping you when they become available, too.
Whatever about the best time to buy a flight, the worst thing you can do is wait to the last minute. Not only is it stressful, but most people booking at the eleventh hour have no flexibility with their arrangements, and they pay handsomely for it.