Hey Snomie and Snowboard Shred School readers, I’ve got a small break between answering emails and creating the upcoming Snomie.com free snowboard shred school site, so I thought I’d tackle a quick non-snowboard (but still useful) travel question.
When is the best time to book flight tickets for a snowboard trip?
Flying costs can be a pain in the butt for a lot of snowboarders, especially if you don’t happen to live close to a major resort.
I should know, my airfare from Australia to Canada costs $1.5k to 2k every year and I’ve been doing for the past 7 years. I also have a girlfriend in Korea, family in Singapore and the Snomie.com business (accountants, office etc) is based in Australia.
This means I travel an absurd amount and in total my flight tracking app says I’ve flown over 145,000 kms over the past few years, so when I say I’ve spent a lot of time in a plane, I’m not kidding.
That means I’ve thankfully had some experience figuring out how to get cheap airfares for all my snowboard and non-snowboard related travels.
So the answer to this question depends on when you’re going snowboarding, but here’s a breakdown from my experience and from a little research into flight prices (some thanks to Peter Greenberg’s article on flight hacking).
I’m flying during a major holiday (eg – Christmas, New Year’s)
If you’re flying during a major holiday, you’re going to have to book a couple months advance. It’s not the cheapest and you won’t be getting any discounts, but you don’t really have much choice since waiting for a last minute discount can easily mean the entire flight sells out and you miss out.
The latest I’d leave it is about 2 months in advance, which may be your best chance to get a small discount (very rare), but inside of 2 months for a major holiday like Christmas is risky and you may be left without any flights left if you leave it too late.
I’m not flying during a major holiday
If you’re not flying during a major holiday, you’ve got more options and waiting longer is actually better. Here are the basic tips:
1) The ‘sweet spot’ starts 45 to 30 days before your trip
About 1 and a half months (45 days) before the flight date is when most flights will begin to go on discount and from that time onwards it tends to get cheaper.
Airlines will often discount flights more as you get closer to the travel date to make sure they fill out as many seats, but just be careful about leaving it much later than a month (30 days) before the snowboard trip date (eg – a day before is not recommended).
I’ve had some great deals on flights when I booked a 1-3 days before my snowboard trip, but I only do that on trips where I don’t have to worry about the exact arrival date (eg – staying at a friend’s house), so I’m not worried about arriving a day or two late if the flight I want ends up fully booked.
2) Be flexible within a few days of your set date (book accommodation after the flight)
If you can, being able to shift your holiday a day or two forward/backward can be very useful for your trip. You’ll sometimes find the same flight can be up to a couple hundred dollars cheaper if you fly the day before or the day after.
Mid-week flights tend to be cheaper than weekend flights due to the lower amount of demand for mid-week travel.
3) Book on Tuesday to Wednesday
*note – this tip is more aimed at domestic flights since there are more flights and more competition/discounts for domestic travel
Low airfare deals tend to go on sale on between Sunday to Tuesday, with the largest amount of deals hitting the airfare systems on Tuesday afternoon (at about 3 pm EST, for whatever reason this is the time airlines program their deals to go online – source), so that’s when you want to start looking at flights.
If you want to take this a step further, you can call up directly at Wednesday 1 am (1 am where the airline company is based – you’ll have to do your research) to get the best price.
This works becuase you typically get 1 day to pay and secure your reservation when you call and book a flight, so most of the cheap flights reserved on Sunday and Monday that weren’t secured will flood back into the system on Tuesday at midnight, so that’s why Wednesday at 1 am is a good time to call and book.
Do note that for this to work you do have to call and talk to the booking agent at the airline, not online, but it can be worth it if you save some money on your flight.
Honestly if you want the cheapest way to get flights for your snowboard trip, the best way I’ve found is still by a credit card that offers points/flight miles and being smart with earning and using your points.
Now obviously this is only for responsible people who ALWAYS pay off their credit card balance in full every month and never pay interest, but if you are one of these people it can be worth free flights for your yearly snow trip.
With normal spending on a card (groceries, petrol, day to day expenses) it’s pretty normal to rack up enough points for a free return flight once a year and there are usually point bonuses when you sign up for a credit card which can get you close to a free return flight right away.
These point bonuses plus putting all your day to day food and expenses on a credit card with good points are how I travelled business class through Asia on the Hello Kitty plane (video below – it was not planned, but I did find the Hello Kitty theme amusing) and all I paid was about $200 in fuel tax.
Anyhow, hope that helps you guys save a few bucks on your yearly ski trip flights.