Finding the best time to book a flight seems like an art form because it can be subjective depending on who you speak to and where you want to go. However, there is some science behind the whole process, in the name of economics. With this on your side, finding the best time to book a flight does not always have to be such a guessing game.
While there is a lot of misconception out there surrounding the best time to book flights, with myths that have been in circulation for decades still being recommended today, there are only two hard and fast rules to the process.
For the best time to book flights, you need to be aware that most airlines will release their listings around a year in advance, and between this time and the takeoff, the prices will continue to change.
This information can be useful when determining the best time to book a flight, and this is the basis for this guide. We are going to share the best way to book flights and how you can find the right time to do so based on your needs.
Or if you’re ready to book your next trip but wondering how far in advance you can book a flight, our guide will tell you everything you need to know.
What Is The Best Time To Book A Flight?
We have all heard the rumors surrounding when is the best day to book flights, and sadly, this is all they are – rumors.
No matter how many times you may have heard it, there is no evidence behind the suggestion that the best day to book flights is a Tuesday. While you may be able to find cheap flights on a Tuesday, there are likely to be better deals present at any other time in the week.
With online flight trackers and airline websites, it is possible to book flights at any time of the day and any day of the week. This means that there is no longer any truth behind one day being better than any other to book flights because they are all the same.
Airline pricing is constantly changing to meet the ongoing demands of passengers.
People use air travel every day of the week now, for both business and pleasure, so it makes no sense for one day to be better than any other for booking. Flights need to be accessible at all times, which makes it tricky to determine when the best time to book is.
While there is no one specific time or day to book flights for the best deal, there are time factors that can influence the price you pay.
What Is The Cheapest Day To Fly?
When trying to find the best time to book flights, you should consider more when you are going to fly as opposed to the day you are going to be booking it.
Considering the day you are going to get on the plane is more of a key to finding the best time to book as opposed to when you log into the airline website to browse available flights.
With this in mind, some days of the week are reportedly cheaper to fly on than others.
Flying on off-peak days, which are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, is a way to find cheaper flights to most locations. Simply toggling your departure and landing dates by a day or two (or in some cases a few hours) can save you hundreds of dollars, depending on your location.
Off-peak times are the best times to fly in if you are looking for the cheapest flights.
It makes sense that as the demand for flights increases, as does the price, and demand is never higher than it is during peak seasons. Avoid times like the holidays or summer months if you want to get a good deal on your flights, as these tend to be the busiest across all airlines.
Traveling during these off-peak months, such as mid-April to early June or August to early October, is a great way to find cheap flights as there is less demand for traveling at these times.
When Is The Best Time To Book Domestic Flights?
As well as considering the time you want to travel, where you are going plays a large part in the cost of flights.
The best time to book domestic flights varies greatly from international flights as they fluctuate in supply and demand across airlines. Domestic flights have a different pricing schedule to international ones, which will influence when is the best time to book.
It has been reported that domestic flights are priced at their highest amount when they are first released by the airline.
As we have mentioned, all flights are typically announced a year before the departure date, which gives you plenty of time to work out whether a domestic trip is right for your budget.
When they are first released, domestic flights are at their most expensive price, which means it is better to wait a while before booking, which gives you plenty of time to shop around for the best deals.
It has been reported that the best time, on average, to book domestic flights is around 64 days before you plan on leaving. The time frame of between three months and three weeks before your intended departure is the best time to book domestic flights as the price will have decreased since they were first announced.
It is important to note that the best time to book domestic flights will differ seasonally as the peak times change.
With this in mind, the best time to book domestic flights by season is as follows:
- Summer: 67 days before the trip
- Winter: 94 days before the trip
- Spring: 84 days before the trip
- Fall: 89 days before the trip
These are average estimations based on the data that is currently out there regarding flight prices and the seasonal changes to this.
When Is The Best Time To Book International Flights?
Like domestic flights, the listings for international flights are announced around a year before the departure date. However, unlike domestic flights, the cost of international flights increases the more time moves on.
Whereas domestic flights are at their highest price when they are first released, international flights tend to be at their lowest, meaning you should act fast to get the best deal for cross-country trips. This is not always a hard and fast rule for international flights, especially at the moment when travel is slowly coming back into the picture, but it does apply in most cases.
There may be certain situations where it is cheaper to wait until the last minute for international flights, but this is typically when there is the most demand, so it is not always a solid plan.
This being said, the best time to book international flights remains most often to be around a year before departure. This is as close to the announcement of the listing as possible, but it may be subject to change based on your location.
When Is The Best Time To Book Holiday Flights?
If you are planning on traveling during the holidays, then you will need to be aware that this is a peak season for airlines, and it may be expensive.
The best time to book for the holidays has been influenced by the pandemic as well, meaning it is now better to book as soon as possible for the holidays instead of waiting until the last minute. This will ensure you snag a place on the plane, instead of being separated from your other travelers, and get a reasonable price.
It is important to note that traveling during the peak seasons, like the holidays, such as around Thanksgiving or Christmas, is going to be more expensive than any other time of the year.
This is why it may be best to remain flexible in your travel desires so you can take a trip during the off-season periods instead. This is when all flights, domestically or internationally, will be cheaper as there is less demand for seats on the plane.
To save money when booking flights for the holidays, you should try to use points or miles instead of your credit card. Any kind of saving that you can make during this time will be a blessing, as it can be expensive to travel during the holidays regardless of where you are going.
That being said, to make sure you get a seat on the plane without having to fork out of your pocket, aim to book as soon as possible for the upcoming holidays.
How To Find The Best Time To Book Flights
The recent pandemic has shown that nothing is set in stone, and while this guide offers good advice regarding when is the best time to book flights. Generally, this information is subject to change.
This means finding the best time to book your flight requires some additional research on your behalf.
There are tools available that can make tracking flights and their prices easier than ever before. Make sure you are familiar with websites like Google Flights, as this is your key to finding the best time to book flights, no matter where you want to go.
Tools like Google Flights pull information and details from airlines across the country so it can provide users with a complete guide to flights from their local airport or to their intended destination. This will make it easier to compare prices and to see the patterns that airlines go through when it comes to the cost of their flights.
Results can be filtered based on your budget, intended destination, or current location, making it incredibly easy to keep track of the current deals, so you do not miss out.
Comparison sites for airlines can also be a useful tool when trying to find the best time to book flights, but not all of them will be as extensive as you may need. This is why it is recommended for most people to use flight trackers, like the Google tool, to find the best time to book flights instead of letting another website do the work for you.
To ensure you are keeping up to date with the latest deals, you can turn on flight notifications using Google Flight. This will alert you when there is a good deal or a price you have been desiring for your chosen flight, meaning you will never have to miss out regardless of when you are going or where you want to go.
For a more in-depth comparison of the best flight booking sites, our guide will tell you everything you need to know.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the best time to book flights. There have been rumors of specific days of the week being the best or certain times when deals are released, but there is no evidence to support these.
Instead, there have been studies done into the pricing of flights and how airlines control this, which can be used to your advantage.
Most airlines will release their flight listings at least a year in advance and the best time to book between this date and the departure will differ based on where you are going.
Domestic flights tend to be priced at their highest amount when they are first announced, meaning it is best to wait a while before booking. On average, between three months and three weeks before your departure is the best time to book domestic flights.
The opposite rules apply to international flights, as these are typically at their lowest price when they are first announced. This means the best time to book international flights is around a year in advance of the departure, although in some cases, last-minute deals may be available, which can offer greater savings.
The pandemic has changed a lot of things regarding air travel, and a major area is the cost of flying. This is why it is best to keep track of the flights to your intended destination and set alerts for the best deal, so you do not miss out.
This can be done using comparison sites or flight tracking tools.
More about our TFVG Author
Caitlin is one of The Family Vacation Guide's long standing contributors. She enjoys taking vacation to busy, vibrant cities and has stretched her traveling legs out towards Europe in recent months, enjoying new experiences in Barcelona in Spain, and Nice in France.