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Make the most of your vacation budget: This is the best time to book a flight

When is the best time to book a flight? Tips and tricks

Most people will, at some point in their lives, need to book a flight. Whether for business or pleasure, booking a flight can be straightforward or a little more complicated depending on certain factors.

If a flight is urgent, then the luxury of booking in advance and saving money is often lost, whereas booking a holiday flight months in advance gives you ample room to shop around for the best deals available at that particular point in time. Other factors that affect pricing include the destination, the time of year of travel, and how far in advance you are allowed to book certain flight tickets. If it is limited to a couple of weeks, then you can expect to pay more, but if you are allowed to book months in advance, then this is where the most significant savings can be found.

Is there a best time to book a flight with all these caveats to consider? If so, when is it best to do so?

A view outside the airplane during sunset.
Andrew Davey/The Manual

When Should You Book a Domestic Flight?

If you have the advantage of booking in advance, then this is the best way to arrange domestic flights. A survey by CheapAir.com discovered that, on average, the best time to purchase air tickets for a domestic flight is 64 days before the departure date.

Furthermore, the survey discovered that seasonality is a major influencer on flight pricing. For example, the cheapest flights for summer vacations can be found 67 days before departure. With winter trips, it is 94 days before the departure date and 89 days before a fall trip.

When tickets are first issued for a flight, the prices tend to be high, and then they fall away over time. Three weeks to three months after these tickets are issued is when they are at their cheapest for domestic flights. However, you can expect a price increase if there is a last-minute rush just before the departure date deadline arrives.

This is standard practice with domestic flight ticketing pricing. Still, because of the recent and ongoing pandemic, prices may be uniformly higher than usual to help fuel a recovery in the industry.

A man in a suit listening to music while hauling his luggage in the airport.
Westend61 GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

When Should You Book an International Flight?

In general, it is best to book early when it comes to international flights, but pricing is also highly dependent on destinations. CheapAir’s survey found that a destination, such as Canada, has the cheapest airfares if tickets are booked two months before departure.

This early booking approach was also found to help customers save money on flights to other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Mexico, the Middle East, and Central America. The best time to buy flights to destinations in Asia, Africa, and Europe is three months or more prior to the departure date.

Again, an increase in airfares no matter when you book is expected through 2023, especially during the peak months. 

A man with a laptop on a fold-out table drinking coffee while using his phone in an airplane.
FG Trade/Getty Images

Are There Actually Certain Days and Times That Are the Cheapest?

So far, we have discovered that booking in advance and traveling off-peak can help save those people booking flights hundreds of dollars. But are there certain days and times of the week that are best for booking flight tickets that can also save you even more extra cash?

Some flight analysts believe that there are favored days of the week and times of day that can aid travelers in their search for a bargain flight deal.

In the United States, it is thought that flights are best booked on a Tuesday or Wednesday. International flights are best booked on weekdays too, but domestic flights are at their cheapest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. 

However, the most expensive flights are those that are usually booked on Fridays and Sundays during peak times, such as mid-morning through to the early evening.

A man using his laptop to book a flight.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tips and Tricks for Getting the Best Deals

1. Utilize Airline Rewards

It’s not just department stores that run rewards systems for customers! Frequent flyers can also benefit from signing up for certain programs that repay them with points or airline credit.

Airline credit cards are beneficial to those who frequently fly with one particular airline. If you sign up for their credit card, you can collect frequent flier miles and more on all your purchases with the specific airline. This can eventually lead to free travel and other perks like upgrades from economy class.

These cards often come with other extra offers, such as earning extra miles if you spend a certain amount of money on flights in a set timeframe. But remember, they can sometimes come with an annual fee, so always read the small print!

2. Be Flexible with Your Dates

Flexibility with flight dates is one of the major factors in finding the best deals on flight tickets. This is because you can book your flight on a day, time, and during a season that can guarantee that you will save money.

Not having such a relaxed approach would mean that tickets would have to be booked quickly to meet the agreed departure date, and this could mean traveling at peak periods and paying premium rates for flights.

3. Filter Searches Based on Type of Destination

Whatever destination or type of holiday you decide to have, it can be helpful to search for individual aspects of a destination, and this can get you a cheaper deal. For example, suppose you are looking for a holiday in Florida. In that case, you could filter the search to South Florida and then filter it further still to individual beach resorts in South Florida, such as Fort Lauderdale. This resort has its own airport and a whole range of entertainment other than glorious beaches, making it an ideal holiday destination.

4. Get Price Change Alerts

There are many ways of getting price change alerts on flights to your chosen destination. Various price alert tools are there waiting, all you have to do is register with them, and they will automatically monitor pricing and update you on your cell phone or by email of any price changes.

Enter your destination, preferred time and date of travel, your departure location, a few personal details, and the sites will do the rest for you.

5. Sign Up for Airfare Deal Newsletters

Another way to leave all the hard work of finding the best flight deals behind is by signing up for newsletters or sites that constantly monitor the market for you and then inform you of the latest and best deals that can save you hundreds of dollars.

Some, such as Scott’s Cheap Flights , can save you up to 90%. Some airfare deal sites charge a fee because of the huge savings and exclusivity of the deals involved. If you want more than just their primary newsletter, it is sometimes worth the cost to get the cheapest flight possible on the market.

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Christine VanDoren
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