There’s a perennial question that vexes every price-sensitive Singaporean when they’re thinking of travelling: how early should you book your flight for the best price? Do three months provide enough buffer or is six months perhaps the safer bet?
Could there be a specific day that bargain hunters should be standing by their computers? You can almost hear netizens all over the Internet echoing “Tuesday”. There probably is a nugget of truth to that, as deals appear relatively cheaper. It just so happens that airlines tend to review their sales on Monday and push out new sale strategies on the following day. What then transpires is a price competition between the various airlines resulting in sales for all of us.
In many other countries in the world, especially temperate ones, flight scheduling and pricing largely fall in line with the various seasons, with a corresponding recommended number of days prior to book your flight. According to Cheapair.com, if you want a winter holiday at the best prices, you should book 62 days in advance, while you need at least 69 days for a holiday during autumn.
Well, in Singapore, what you get is a steady hot and humid climate all year round. In fact, unless you count the odd drops in temperature when we all act like we’re in winter, there is really no change to the perpetual heat. The peak and lull periods we see hence differ rather greatly, scaled heavily in the favour of festive seasons, school holidays, and the interspersing of long weekends throughout the year.
Festive Seasons/Major School Holidays
For Singapore, the peak travel periods line up closely to the festive seasons and major school holidays that are scattered throughout the year. The big ones roughly revolve around Chinese New Year, the June holidays, and the End of Year holidays which includes Christmas.
These are peak periods, so no matter what the prices you see will always be higher than in the off-season months. But there are peaks and valleys in prices where you can swoop in to get the best deals. According to Expedia, 31 to 60 days are a safe bet if you want to get the most out of your deals. As an example, prices were 18 per cent below the peak when booked one to three months before the Chinese New Year holidays in 2018.
Long weekends (or, as the Content Strategist insists, Bangkok weekends) are the next best thing to an actual holidays and are often what Singaporeans take advantage to maximise their leave days. But that also means that prices are usually hiked up during this period, so don’t expect too much discounts during these weekends, especially so if you’re one to two weeks out from the actual day.
Best Periods to Travel
So, when are the best periods to travel? If you’re truly looking for the cheapest deals, the lull periods and when you’ll see the greatest drop in prices are during the months of April to May and September to October. The common consensus out there is one to three months before your desired travel dates will net you the best deals.
Of course, this varies from destination to destination. Where it may only require you one month prior to book your flights for destinations like Hong Kong and Bali, you may want to allocate two months for the best deals for Bangkok. For further destinations like London, five months prior to your travel dates will net you the best discounts.
If you want to nail it down to a single day, travel website and search engine Kayak recently conducted a data analysis and published their report on the best times to book a holiday from Singapore. According to their findings, contrary to the urban myth of Tuesday being the best day, it’s actually Thursday at 6 AM when the best prices can be found.
Of course, there are many travel sites out there who have their own findings which point to certain days or timings that fit best, so take it all with a grain of salt. With so much conflicting information out there, it’s safe to say that hunting for the best deals is not an exact science and luck plays an important role for all you bargain hunters out there. (And anyway, isn’t hunting for cheap tickets part of the fun?)
Well, no matter how far in advance you book, it’s universally accepted that prices will no doubt surge when you practice late booking, so if you can, it’s always best to book early for the best prices and for the most options.