By Staff
May 02, 2012

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Travel + Leisure's features director Nilou Motamed shares her tips for the best times to book airfares.


>> this morning on "today's travel," how to find the best airfares. we've all been told to book early if you want to get the cheapest flights. but is it really the right way to go? from travel and leisure the feature editor there.

>> good morning, ann.

>> airline flight prices just keep going up and up and up in part because of gas prices. what is now the rule of thumb in terms of booking early?

>> the key is to know when to book but also when to fly. so it's a combination, and what we're finding is the best idea is to look at historical data. so we went to a company called a.r.c. and asked them for a lot of information about previous years so we could give you the basic sweet spots.

>> so what does this data tell us about whether you should be booking months in advance or weeks in advance to get cheaper flights?

>> it really depends on the destination. if you're flying domestically you should be looking at about six weeks time in advance . that's a rule of thumb . of course i would say it's best to know what the flight costs could be so you know when you're getting a great deal.

>> i thought it was two weeks in advance. now i feel really stupid.

>> you shouldn't feel stupid. because the thing is that's for the optimal lowest price. now if you're flying for memorial day , today is actually the last day in that sweet spot of four weeks in advance before memorial day . if you're thinking about going for memorial day this is the time to book. thanksgiving, when do you think you should be booking for thanksgiving?

>> october?

>> summer. august.

>> okay.

>> so late august, while you're at the beach, that's when you should be thinking about thanksgiving. this is not to scare people, more to just let them know, they're getting the best deals possible. international travel , this is going to really blow your mind . 21 to 22 weeks in advance for europe in the summertime.

>> are you saying that essentially we have to now book earlier, earlier than we ever used to?

>> earlier than we used to because there aren't that many -- those rising prices and limited capacity. there aren't all the planes flying with not that many seats they're trying to sell last-minute. for the caribbean you want to go at the prime time it would be 11 to 12 weeks in advance.

>> let's talk about some other things you want to say in terms of if the prices are so high we really want to get these better deals. you say we should consider traveling during the shoulder season.

>> shoulder season, depending on the destination, varies. but the basic gist of the shoulder season is you're traveling during the season right after the high season. so if you're going to europe and you want to go to europe in the summer and you can't afford it in the prime season, why not go in august or september, a beautiful time of the year there or in the caribbean, early december, or after april 15th . i plan a trip every year april 19th . which is my birthday and i go to the caribeacaribbean.

>> that works out.

>> airline sales are generally for certain days of the week. you say don't limit yourself to those days.

>> don't limit yourself. they do publish sales on tuesdays and wednesdays, a great time to go and look online. there are also deals that they're putting up all the time. and last-minute, small bag. sign up for a fare alert on an website like airline watch dog . those fares come to you in your in box.

>> also a lot of us fly on fridays and saturdays and sundays. how much money can you save if we think about changing those days that we fly?

>> for example i flew back from austin yesterday. don't do that. don't fly on fridays, and sundays and mondays because that's when everyone else is doing. it's all about supply and demand . consider flying on saturday, actually is a great time to fly . or on tuesday. that's also a value option.

>> okay. what if you actually book a ticket, and actually it's cheaper later on? can you actually get a better deal?

>> something that a lot of people don't realize, the new rules make it if within 24 hours of booking your flight you get a better deal you can get a full refund. that's something people should definitely take advantage of.

>> that's terrific. we've gotten through a lot of information here.

>> thank you so much.

>> i think you may have saved some people some money this morning. thank you so much.