Holidaymakers should book flights this week to get the cheapest fares for the Whitsun (spring) bank holiday.
Which? Travel crunched two years of price data from millions of flights listed on Skyscanner to find out when fares for travel during various holiday periods were lowest. We found that the cheapest flights for the late May bank holiday were available around three months in advance.
The coronavirus outbreak has also led to many people not booking holidays, and prices to many destinations are at a historic low. Travellers will need to assess for themselves, alongside Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, whether they want to travel. We have impartial advice on the coronavirus. This includes information on what to do if you want to cancel and what you need to know about travel insurance.
Will I definitely get a cheaper bank holiday flight now?
It’s not an exact science, even with two years of flight price data. The price of flights can go up even during the 10 minutes when you’re booking them. This is what airlines call ‘dynamic pricing’, or hiking prices when demand for a certain destination or flight is higher.
It will also depend where you are going. Prices can be affected by regional festivals, big sports events, major conferences or other attractions at your destination. Nobody can say exactly when is the best time to book flights in 2020.
However, we have good confidence that now is the best time to book for most destinations. When we looked at the data from 2017 and 2018, we found that the best time to book for Easter, Christmas and bank holidays was roughly the same each year. This means that, while the best prices for the late spring should be in the next day or two, fares are likely to remain below average for a week or so after 24 February.
Christmas and Easter flight prices are also cheapest when booked three months in advance. The exception was the school summer holiday period, with airfares for August cheapest six months ahead of time. With such high demand for summer holiday flights, prices increase as the departure date approaches.
Where to go on your next beach holiday
Which? Travel can also provide inspiration for your next holiday. We asked thousands of holidaymakers to rate the food, beaches and peace and quiet in the Canary Islands. Puerto Calero in Lanzarote topped the table, according to visitors, while Arrecife ended up at the opposite end of the table.
Or, if you fancy a European city break, find out which was the only European city that UK visitors gave a full five-star rating for value for money.