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Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Mar 27, 2013 12:09 PM EDT

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It's going to be a busy travel season this Thanksgiving 2013. Airlines for America, the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, is projecting that 25.1 million passengers will fly during the Thanksgiving travel period. (Photo : Flickr)

Anyone who's traveled knows the frustration of trying to get the best price on airfare.

Here's is a list of tips on when to buy and when to travel to increase your chances of a good deal:

* Purchase your tickets at least a few weeks in advance: Last minute deals are rarely good. According to CheapAir, the best time to buy a domestic ticket is 79 days, or seven weeks, in advance of your trip. For international tickets, 81 days is best, and deals are generally available 11 to 12 weeks in advance. Kayak found 21 days prior to departure to be the best deals for domestic flights and 34 days for international.

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* If you are planning a trip, follow the airlines and hotels you are considering on social media: They often post flash sales and if you pay attention, there might be a great deal. JetBlue has had cross-country flights for less than $100. The only caveat is the flights are often during limited time frames and with short notice.

* Keep track of the fluctuations in price to your destination for a week or two: Prices vary with seemingly little or no reason, and that may be the best way to figure out when flights are cheapest for your specific journey.

* For peak travel times, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, 14 weeks in advance is likely to yield the best deals.

* Don't believe myths: According to numerous studies on airline pricing, the idea that shopping for tickets on Tuesday or Wednesday is cheaper is not true. Data published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found that weekend fares could actually be five percent cheaper.  However, airline sales often occur earlier in the week, so it is best to monitor the flights price fluctuations.

Rapid fire tips:

* The best way to get a good deal on a flight is to travel off-season. This results in significantly lower fares.

* For summer travel, booking three months in advance is recommended for the best fares.

* Sunday is usually the most expensive day to fly, and Saturday is usually the cheapest.

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