The Best Time to Book Flights for Maximum Savings
If you’ve ever been in the market for airfare, you know that prices fluctuate all the time. There are plenty of rumors (and studies) that claim booking on certain days will get you better deals.
For the most part, experts agree that booking early is key. A new study by Google found that flight prices are usually lowest about 44 days out, on average.
Book a Month or More in Advance
When you’re planning your next getaway, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to finding the best time to book flights. While airfare prices are always in flux, there are a few general rules of thumb and tools you can use to help you save money on your travel plans.
One of the best ways to find a deal is by booking your flight well in advance. Generally speaking, you should start watching prices about three to four months before your departure date and expect to book about six to seven months out. The exact window will vary by destination, but it’s a good idea to get an early start so you can see how prices fluctuate from week to week and month to month.
For domestic trips, you’ll typically find the cheapest fares in January and February. Internationally, you’ll likely see the lowest fares in autumn (September to November) or spring.
It’s worth noting that flight deals don’t stick around forever, so you’ll want to act quickly when you see a cheap fare. There isn’t any one day of the week that’s reliably cheaper than others, though a few studies have pointed to Sunday as the best day to buy airfare.
Airfares are also more likely to drop closer to your departure date, as airlines try to fill empty seats on their planes. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on prices even after you’ve booked your ticket, as you may be able to nab a last-minute deal if you’re flexible with your dates.
In the days and weeks before your trip, airfare prices are more likely to spike, as airlines raise their prices knowing that business travelers and desperate travelers will pay anything to get where they need to go. For this reason, it’s best to avoid buying tickets during this time unless you have to.
Book a Week or More in Advance
Flight prices fluctuate all the time, so there’s no one day of the week or month that’s consistently the cheapest. However, if you’re willing to be flexible on your travel dates, you can still find some deals. That’s especially true during the months of January, February, and August, when prices tend to be lowest.
You’ll also see better deals if you fly midweek instead of the weekend. The average price of a domestic flight departing Tuesday or Wednesday is $70 less than that of a Sunday departure, according to Hopper. It’s worth mentioning that fares can go up as the date approaches, so you’ll need to be ready to jump on a deal when it pops up.
The good news is that you can still save money by booking at least a week or more in advance, even if it’s close to your departure date. That’s because airlines tend to increase prices a few weeks before the trip, in anticipation that desperate travelers will be willing to pay almost anything for a seat.
Whether you book a week or more in advance, it’s always a good idea to check prices again several times per day. Fares can change on an hourly basis, and you might be able to snag a deal you hadn’t considered when you first checked.
If you’re traveling internationally, it’s best to start searching about two or three months in advance. That’s when you’ll find the cheapest fares, according to Going, a website that sends out flight deals.
In the past, it was possible to predict when airlines would load new fares by looking at patterns over time. However, airlines now operate on an entirely different model: they can’t predict what the demand for seats will be, so they’re constantly adjusting their pricing algorithms. If you want to keep track of fares on your own, Keyes recommends signing up for alerts on the flight search site of your choice, such as Google Flights, Hopper, or Skyscanner. This way, they’ll send you an email when prices are low. They’ll also email you if fares drop to your desired destination.
Flight prices are always shifting, thanks to a complicated set of factors that can be hard for even the most savvy travelers to keep track of. Dynamic pricing, capacity-controlled rate tiers, and seasonal shifts can make it nearly impossible to know the best day to book your next trip.
There are, however, some tried and true strategies that can help you save money on flights. One trick is to shop in what’s known as the “prime booking window.” The term refers to a period of time — often several weeks or months — before departure when deals are most likely available and airlines are most willing to cut prices. The specific timing of this window varies by destination, but it’s usually around two-and-a-half months out for domestic flights and five months out for international trips. In this article on View from the Wing, you will know why humanitarian fares was drop and how to find ways in order to cope from this.
Another way to score cheap flights is to book your depart and return on the same day, which can sometimes lead to savings of up to 40%. This is because it’s cheaper for airlines to move the seats from a full flight to an empty one on the same day, so they often offer discounted rates as a result.
It’s also worth shopping in the middle of the week, when airfare prices tend to be lower than on weekends and Tuesdays. Airfare experts say this is due to the fact that fewer people fly mid-week and airlines are looking to fill seats.
It’s also important to avoid peak travel season, when prices spike for a variety of reasons. High demand for summer vacations, winter holidays, and popular events like Mardi Gras can drive up prices significantly. Fortunately, you can save some money by traveling in shoulder seasons instead. This includes the spring and fall, when many families plan their annual trips, as well as the summer and winter breaks popular with millennials.
Book a Day or More in Advance
There’s no magic number of days in advance that’s the best time to book flights. Instead, experts advise that you focus on the overall time frame for your trip. That way, you can be more flexible in the day or even the week that you book and still have a good chance of saving money on airfare.
The key is to look at your travel dates and the type of trip you’re planning. A long-haul flight, like one from Boston to London or a transatlantic flight, needs more lead time to get the best prices than a quick domestic trip or a regional flight. Generally, you should aim to purchase tickets three to six months out for international trips and four to six weeks in advance for domestic flights.
Another factor is determining the season in which you’re planning to travel. Peak travel seasons, such as summer holidays or Christmas, typically result in higher airfare prices due to increased demand. If you’re flexible with your destination and the dates of your trip, you may be able to score a better deal during these off-season times.
In terms of specific days, Hopper’s data shows that the cheapest days to depart for domestic flights are midweek, such as Tuesday or Wednesday. However, it’s important to remember that flight prices fluctuate constantly and can increase as you get closer to your departure date.
While it’s possible to save on flights by booking last-minute deals, these types of discounts are usually a result of an airline error or seasonal demand imbalance and will disappear once the underlying issue has been resolved. If you’re not comfortable taking the gamble of waiting until the last minute to buy your tickets, consider signing up for a few travel newsletters and checking in regularly with your favorite flight search engine to stay abreast of the latest deals.
Despite the myths and rumors, finding a cheap airfare isn’t impossible. With a few simple rules of thumb and reliable flight-searching tools, you’ll be able to score a great price on your next getaway.