Book seven weeks in advance. Passengers pay the lowest price, nearly 10 percent below the average fare, if they buy 50 days before their flight, according to data from the Airlines Reporting Corporation. The data was compiled by examining 2017 ticket sales from online and corporate travel agencies in the U.S. for the top 500 origin-and-destination markets. But the seven-week rule isn't necessarily a surefire strategy for snagging the cheapest fare. "This is just a trend," explains Chuck Thackston, ARC's managing director of data science and research. "Airlines will make valuable deals available all the time. But, on average, we see this [50-day] approach works."
You’re right. That does seem high. However, tickets between now and June generally increase in price not decrease – so (on average) you’ll probably do worse the longer you wait. I would do a search every few days for the next 2 or 3 weeks and if you don’t see the price drop then you’re sort of forced to buy. (Unless the trip is optional in which case you could wait and just not buy if they don’t come down.)
Southwest offers daily "Ding" (southwest.com/ding) deals that pop up on your computer (announced by an audible "ding," thus the name) that can save a few bucks off their already low fares. Frontier Airlines has begun sending out similar fares by e-mail. In both cases, the fares expire the same day they're announced but they're often good for travel far into the future.
Create an account with Ticketmaster. You can register to receive information on upcoming events and ticket sales for your favorite performers, teams, and shows. It can also save you precious minutes when a sale starts by freeing you from having to enter login and payment information, during which time bots and more savvy fans can swoop in and grab your seats. Ticketmaster also has a free iPhone and Android app that provides notification about every presale and breaking news about added shows.
New York State lawmakers in May renewed the current ticket-selling law, which expires annually; new pending legislation would stiffen civil penalties and impose criminal ones for bot usage. Meanwhile, there are two ticketing bills under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would prohibit the use of bots and give the Federal Trade Commission enforcement authority. With significant reform unlikely to happen soon, how do you avoid getting gouged on ticket prices the next time you want to go to a ball game or take in a show?
If you’re flying somewhere that involves a transfer, say from Canada to Australia which typically involves Canada to LA, then LA to Australia, consider that it may be cheaper to book these two legs separately on your own by adding another destination to your trip. It should go without saying that in doing this, you should not book tight layovers. I repeat: do not book layovers that are hours apart! This approach is for those who want to create an additional destination of a few days or more, before catching their next flight. The one exception is when booking with Kiwi.com, who offer their own guarantee on making connecting flights even when not with the same partner airlines.
Few products are so underpriced that an entire subsidiary industry exists to take advantage of the discrepancy. When there is excess demand for a new car or phone, some people might sell theirs at a markup on eBay, but there’s nobody across the street from the dealership or Best Buy offering it right away for double the sticker price; there certainly isn’t an entire corporation built on exploiting companies’ failure to properly price items initially. Yet concerts and sporting events consistently price their tickets low enough that street scalpers risk jail time to hawk marked-up tickets, and StubHub makes hundreds of millions a year in revenue.