A lot of factors revolve around when finding the best time to book cheap flights. Flights are generally open for booking about a year in advance, and the prices of flight tickets can also change often between then and a few minutes before take-off. However, as a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to book flights well in advance of your trip, because airfares increase significantly in the days nearing the departure of flights, thus, taking advantage of any last-minute travellers who would have no choice but to pay up.
This travel guide will focus on the best time to book cheap flights and what you need to know.
What is the Best Time to Buy a Plane Ticket?
As you may already know, several things affect the dynamic pricing patterns of flight tickets. This also includes the destination and time of year of travel. Sometimes, it is possible to book flights just a couple of weeks in advance, while in other cases, you may book a few months in advance. For example, booking domestic flights during autumn, while booking a long holiday trip would be ideal when the demand is high.
Scoring the best deals on flights, whether domestic or international, can be tricky. Therefore, it is advised that you start tracking flight prices as early as possible, so you can keep an eye on the fluctuations in airfares. You can also sign up for free to use Google Flights, Hopper, etc. to track flights and receive alerts whenever prices change.
Flying to Europe
The months in which you can get the most deals for travelling to Europe is in August, October, and November. However, there also deals that are offered every other month as well, like great fares in the $200s/$300s round-trip to Europe from the US in November (for travel Jan–May 2019) and similar flights in the $400s/$500s in July (for travel Aug 2018–May 2019).
Flying to Oceania
The ideal months to get deals for travelling to Australia and New Zealand would be in November, January, and July. However, there are also deals which you can get all year round. For example, in December, you can get a deal for $684 round-trip flights from NYC to Sydney for travel from February to April, and in April, you can get a deal for a $702 round-trip from San Francisco to Auckland.
Flying to Africa
The ideal month for getting great deals for travelling to Africa in May. However, you can also get deals in Africa all around the year. For example, an August deal from DC to Nairobi for $574 round-trip.
Flying to Asia
The ideal months for getting great deals to travel to Asia are August and October, followed by April and September. However, in this case, as well, you will find plenty of deals in other months, too.
What is the Best Day of the Week to Book Flights?
Another common question asked by most people is around the best day to book flights. In particular, people wonder if plane tickets are cheaper on Tuesday.
A lot of travel booking websites claim this to be true, and it once was. Airlines used to post updated prices at a certain time of day each week. For instance, Tuesday, according to popular belief. However, today, flight prices are constantly updated and can also fluctuate by the second.
How Far in Advance is it Best to Book a Flight?
When you book airline tickets, part of the calculations involves knowing how many days in advance you should be checking on fares. There are plenty of opinions on this topic, too.
We typically see a sweet spot of 2–6 months out, but we recommending booking earlier if you need to travel on specific dates or if your trip is during peak travel times like Christmas, New Year’s, and Spring Break.
You can book flights up to a year in advance, but that doesn’t necessarily equal the best deal. If you have less flexibility or are travelling during peak times, start tracking flights early so you know the standard price—and can identify a good deal when you see one.
Are last-minute flights cheaper?
Whether or not you aspire to be the kind of traveller who decides on a Tuesday to go to Aruba on Friday, you should know that deals on last-minute flights are rarer than you might have been led to believe.
Airlines used to offer killer deals a few weeks out when they were trying to fill vacant seats with leisure travellers. But the times have changed, and now their bottom line is covered by expensive first and business class tickets, so there’s no need to fill every seat. Plus, they know some of those empty seats will get snapped up by business travellers heading out on a sudden trip—and they pay full price.
Generally speaking, waiting until the 11th hour to book airfare isn’t going to save you money. After about the three-week mark, prices rise significantly, no matter the route.