What Is the Cheapest Time to Book a Flight? (2024)

Want to get the cheapest flight possible? You're not alone. We're always trying to lock in the lowest price for airline tickets, whether it's to visit family or for that next great vacation. Thanks to the internet and online travel agencies and discount providers that replaced traditional agents, we now have access to a broader range of prices and options and all at our fingertips.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consumers have a range of options available when it comes to booking airline tickets.
  • Flights are generally the most inexpensive between four months and three weeks before your departure date.
  • Seasonal changes and holidays can create price fluctuations in ticket prices.
  • The day of the week that you book a flight does not affect the price.
  • Using a rewards credit card to book could help you earn miles or points that you could apply to savings on future flights.

Why Do Airline Ticket Prices Fluctuate?

If you're interested in getting the best deal on flights, it helps to understand what causes changes in pricing. Timing plays an important part. Specifically, plane tickets usually don't get cheaper closer to the departure date. Instead, flights tend to be the most inexpensive when you book between four months and three weeks before your departure date.

According to CheapAir.com, you can expect rates to go up after that period. There may, of course, be some compounding factors that can affect this. For example, seasonal changes and holidays can have a big impact on pricing at different times.

The Volatility of Airfare Prices

Discount airfare company CheapAir.com analyzes millions of flights and ticket prices each year. In the CheapAir.com study, the company looked at fares for more than 917 million flights in 8,000 markets. The results show volatility is the main reason behind the prices of flights.

The company found that ticket prices fluctuate based on the amount of time that spans between the purchase and the flight, seasonality, and whether the flight is to Hawaii, which is different from booking a flight anywhere else. According to the study, the day of the week is a myth and does not affect the price of tickets.

6 Booking Zones

From its extensive analysis, CheapAir.com identified six booking zones for airfares based on the number of days before departure and what to expect during each of them. Here's how fares compare across each booking zone. The table below lists each booking period, the number of days in advance, and some of the key considerations for each.

Booking PeriodDays in AdvanceNotes
First Dibs203 to 315Expect to pay about $50 more than if you waited to get the lowest airfare. But you will probably have more choices for itinerary and seating.
Peace of Mind116 to 202Tickets cost about $20 more than if you waited for the lowest airfare. There are plenty of good options for seats and flights.
Prime Booking Window21 to 115This is the ideal time to hunt for bargains and book your flights as airfares average within 5% of their lowest prices.
Push Your Luck14 to 20Fares often rise as the most convenient options are sold out and the best seats are taken but you may luck out and find some lower fares.
Playing with Fire7 to 13Ticket prices average $135 less than if you waited until the last minute to buy your tickets, but it's still not the ideal time to buy. Flight and seat choices are also limited by this time.
Hail Mary 0 to 6Try to avoid booking flights during this period unless a last-minute emergency arises. You'll pay an average of $220 more than if you booked during the prime booking window.

Seasonal Considerations

The general recommendations that CheapAir.com lays out in the six booking zones can be helpful guidelines for buying plane tickets. But the company notes they may change depending on the season.

  • Fall: You can usually wait a bit longer to book fall travel and still get decent deals. The average best time to buy is 69 days in advance. The exception is Thanksgiving week, for which you should book travel earlier.
  • Winter: Travel around the Christmas and New Year holidays will usually cost more no matter what; otherwise, winter can be an affordable time to travel. For non-holiday travel, aim to buy plane tickets 94 days in advance.
  • Spring: Many people travel during a wide range of days for spring break, so the key to travel during this season is to plan ahead. If possible, buy your tickets 84 days in advance.
  • Summer: This is the most popular season for American travel. CheapAir.com recommends buying your tickets 99 days in advance during this time.

Regardless of the time, be sure to understand any health and safety restrictions you're expected to observe in the terminal or onboard when you're booking your flights.

Additional Tips for Booking Flights

While you shop around for the best possible flight, remember the tips and windows of time laid out by CheapAir.com above. But you should also remember one more thing: When you spot a bargain, take it. If you wait, you may be costing yourself more money in the end. The longer you wait, the more you'll end up paying, which may not be good for your budget.

Another thing to consider is how a travel rewards credit card could help with saving money on airfare. For example, you may be able to find a card that offers perks such as:

  • Free checked bags
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credits
  • Free companion passes
  • Elite status in frequent flyer programs
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Free food and drinks onboard
  • Complimentary in-flight WiFi

Those kinds of benefits may not trim money off your actual ticket cost but they can save you on other flight-related expenses. Checking out some of the best travel rewards cards can help you find one that offers the right combination of rewards, benefits, and costs. When comparing travel rewards cards, be sure to consider whether any blackout dates or other restrictions may apply for booking award travel.

When Is the Best Period to Book a Flight?

CheapAir.com's survey on airline ticket prices recognizes six booking periods. The best time to book an airline flight is the prime booking window, which is 21 to 115 days in advance. Airfares generally average 5% of their lowest prices during this period. Compare that to last-minute bookings (between 0 and six days in advance) when you'll pay an average of $220 more than the prime booking window.

Why Do Airline Prices Fluctuate?

There are a number of reasons why airline prices fluctuate. These factors include booking and flight seasons, holidays, seasonal changes, and overall volatility. For instance, the travel restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic pushed prices down as demand for travel waned. Similarly, higher fuel costs and consumer demand can push ticket prices higher.

How Do I Find the Best Airline Ticket Prices?

The best way to find the cheapest airline ticket price is to shop around. Price your tickets with different airlines and agents. You can always consult individual airlines and traditional travel agents, or search online for the best price yourself. We know that emergencies arise but the earlier you book your ticket, the better. The best time to book your ticket is the prime booking window, which is between 21 to 115 days in advance.

What Is the Best Day of the Week to Book Airline Tickets?

You may have heard that there is a cheap window of time during the week to book your airline tickets. According to CheapAir.com, that's a myth. The day and time of the week have no impact on ticket prices.

The Bottom Line

Getting a great deal on flights means understanding what affects airfare pricing. In 2020, domestic fares dropped sharply from $352 on average to $292 on average due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines increased prices after the restrictions were lifted, thanks to higher inflation, fuel costs, and a rise in consumer demand. So how can you save? Using an airline miles credit to book flights can help earn miles or points toward future air travel. You may also consider joining one or more frequent flyer programs to rack up additional money-saving miles.

Article Sources

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What Is the Cheapest Time to Book a Flight? (2024)


What time is it cheapest to book flights? ›

Flights are generally the most inexpensive between four months and three weeks before your departure date. Seasonal changes and holidays can create price fluctuations in ticket prices. The day of the week that you book a flight does not affect the price.

How do you ensure you get the cheapest flights? ›

How to Find Cheap Flights in 2022: The Ultimate Guide
  1. Pick your destination and dates based on price.
  2. Use the best flight search sites.
  3. Find the cheapest place to fly with the Google Flights Explore Map.
  4. Be flexible—even by a few days—to save more.
  5. Travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.
9 Mar 2022

What is the cheapest month to fly in 2022? ›

Cheapest Days to Fly 2022: Winter
  • Cheapest fares: January 7 to February 28.
  • Cheapest single travel day: January 21.
  • Best days of the week to fly: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, followed by Thursdays.
  • Days to avoid: Prices are higher February 14-17 due to Valentine's Day and President's Day weekends.
13 Dec 2021

Is it true that airline tickets are cheaper at midnight? ›

It is always a good idea to book a flight at midnight. Yes, during midnight the prices of the flight go down. A trend is that Thursday Midnights are usually a great time for making your reservations for both domestic and international flights.

What time of day do flight prices drop? ›

When Do Flight Prices Drop? The price of flights often drops on Monday night or Tuesday morning. However, the price may also drop several times between the moment that the flight is offered and the departure date. Airlines often begin accepting bookings for flights about 11 months before the departure date.

What day are flight prices lowest? ›

Average domestic airfare price by day
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly domestically.
  • Saturday and Monday flights can help you avoid the Sunday rush.
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest day to fly internationally.
  • Book one to three months in advance.
  • Set a price alert.
3 Jun 2022

Do flight prices go up if you search? ›

No, your search history doesn't affect flight prices.

"We run thousands of searches every day, day after day. If prices were rising based on those previous searches, we'd see it."

Can airlines negotiate prices? ›

You can use travel agents, the true champions of negotiations, to fetch the best deals for you. You can even try bargaining directly with the airline's representative on the toll-free number. Be patient and polite, and ask them about the possibilities of getting the flight at a lower fare.

What airline is the cheapest? ›

Top 10 Cheapest Airlines
RankAirlineCost per Mile
1.Spirit Airlines$0.209
2.Frontier Airlines$0.225
3.Hawaiian Airlines$0.257
4. (T)Allegiant Air$0.322
6 more rows
16 Jun 2021

Why are flights so expensive for March 2022? ›

Fuel prices have contributed to staggering inflation, which this year is growing at its fastest pace since 1981, according to a US Labor Department report released Tuesday. The inflation in airfare led to a 20% increase in prices in March 2022 compared to March 2019, according to Adobe data.

What day of the week is best to book a flight 2022? ›

Pay attention to the day you choose to fly. In 2022, the cheapest day of the week to fly is Wednesday. Flying on Wednesday will save you $57 per airline ticket versus the most expensive day to travel, which is Sunday. Tuesday follows Wednesday closely, with average savings of $56 versus the most expensive day to fly.

Do flights get cheaper in the morning? ›

If you're looking to save, early morning, midday, or late-night flights can often be the cheapest time to fly. And if you're booking a transcontinental or international flight, you could score some substantial savings if you're willing to take a red-eye flight overnight.

Do flights get cheaper as the day gets closer? ›

Airlines start releasing tickets almost a year before the flight, but prices are higher when first released and tend to get cheaper as the day of travel approaches.

Do airlines drop prices at the last minute? ›

Conclusion on Last-Minute Flights

Here's what you have to remember: Last-minute flights aren't cheaper: on the contrary, they tend to get more expensive the closer to the departure date. If you have no choice but to book at the last minute, use tools like Skyscanner's “everywhere search” or lastminute.com.

Are flights cheaper Tuesday at midnight? ›

Tuesday Around Midnight is the Cheapest Time to Book

We found that travelers who search for flights on Tuesday at midnight save about 6% on their flights, making this the cheapest time of the week to book. In general, flights were slightly cheaper at midnight earlier in the week (Monday through Wednesday).

What time of day is best to book flights? ›

According to Skyscanner's research, the best time to book on any given day is around 5 a.m. So, it's true that the early bird gets the worm. Or, the flight deal, that is. In addition, whether you want to save on domestic or international flights, you should also fire up your laptop on Sunday.

Is it really cheaper to book flights on Tuesdays? ›

The Best Day to Travel for Cheap Flights

That means flying on off-peak days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are often much cheaper days to fly. Shifting your departure and return dates by just a day or two can save you hundreds of dollars.

How do you tell if flight prices are going up or down? ›

When the price for a flight or route you're tracking changes significantly, you can get email updates.
  • Go to Google Flights.
  • At the top, choose the number of stops, cabin class, and how many tickets you need.
  • Choose your departure airport and destination.
  • To track prices for this route, turn on Track prices.

How often do flight prices change in a day? ›

The airlines update fare information 3 times a day. They do not necessarily change airfare prices all three times, but they certainly can, and often do.

Should I clear cookies when searching for flights? ›

You should search incognito for flights or clear the cookies on your internet browser because the website is tracking what you're looking for and will jack up the price.” Let us say this unequivocally: Searching for flights incognito does nothing.

Can you get cheaper tickets by calling the airline? ›

If you book flights over the phone, you'll indeed get better airfare rates. Thus, it is preferable to book directly by calling an airline. Passengers generally prefer to book flights with the airline by calling or visiting their official website.

How do I make an airline deal? ›

  1. … build relationships. ...
  2. … go armed with data. Before entering any negotiation, you should be completely familiar with both your supplier's business and your own. ...
  3. … be flexible and compassionate. ...
  4. … be open to alternative negotiations. ...
  5. … talk to your TMC. ...
  6. … overcommit. ...
  7. … undersell your company. ...
  8. … rely on just one supplier.
27 Jun 2021

What happens if you book a flight then price goes down? ›

It is the policy of many airlines to do exactly that. It is really not a refund, but a cancellation of your original ticket, issuance of a credit, minus any change fee, and rebooking of a new ticket at the lower price.

What airline is best? ›

The Best Airlines in the U.S.: 2022 Readers' Choice Awards
  1. Delta Air Lines.
  2. JetBlue Airways. ...
  3. Hawaiian Airlines. ...
  4. Tradewind Aviation. ...
  5. Alaska Airlines. ...
  6. Southwest Airlines. ...
  7. United Airlines. ...
  8. Sun Country Airlines. ...
4 Oct 2022

Where is the cheapest place I can fly? ›

20 Cheapest Places to Fly Around the World
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • San Francisco Bay Area, California.
  • Costa Rica.
  • The Virgin Islands.
  • Key West, Florida.
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
2 days ago

What airlines have $59? ›

Southwest Airlines is at it again and offering $59 flights, available for travel through February 2023.
Here are some of the basic guidelines:
  • Must book a one-way flight between 9/13/2022 and 10/3/2022.
  • A 21-day advance purchase is required.
  • Discounted flight dates are available from October 4, 2022, to February 15, 2023.
14 Sept 2022

Which is the best site for booking air tickets? ›

The 12 Best Websites for Booking Flights at the Cheapest Prices [...
  • Book Direct Through the Airline's Website.
  • Momondo.
  • Kayak.
  • Expedia.
  • Priceline.
  • Orbitz.
  • Agoda.
  • Hotwire.
29 Sept 2022

Will airline prices go down in April 2022? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, airfare prices recently hit their largest one-month jump in history – climbing 18.6% from March to April 2022. Since then, prices don't seem to be going down, either.

Why are April 2022 flights so expensive? ›

With demand for travel now matching the supply of flights, airlines can charge travelers more because they're itching to get on a plane and go somewhere. It's really that simple. Demand is high, supply isn't high enough, and airlines know travelers will pay more right now.

How early should you buy airline tickets? ›

The average best time to buy is 47 days, or about 1.5 months in advance. Prime Booking Window is 14 – 160 days (2 weeks to about 5 months) from travel. Our summer airfare calendar can help make the shopping process simple and easy – showing you the cheapest and most expensive dates to fly.

Why is it cheaper to fly on Tuesdays? ›

Apparently, this is due to airlines announcing deals on Monday evenings. By Tuesday at noon, other airlines are trying to match those deals. So Tuesday afternoons are the best time to hunt for reduced airfare. But is Tuesday really the cheapest day to buy airline tickets?

Are flights cheaper same day? ›

In general, same-day flights are cheaper than booking in advance, but it isn't always the case. Sometimes, booking a flight six months in advance might seem like a good idea.

Is it cheaper to buy one way or round trip? ›

When traveling within the U.S., airlines typically price one-way flights at exactly half the cost of a round-trip. There certainly are exceptions, especially for those that fly out of smaller, regional airports.

› blog › what-the-airlines-neve... ›

Say we have a plane flying between Los Angeles and New York that has 100 seats on it. The airline is considering 3 possible fares to sell seats at: $100, $300, ...
While we generally recommend booking international travel 2-6 months in advance, we know that's not always possible.
Tracking airfare and looking for the best prices is as complicated and dangerous as a warrior fighting dragons in a darkened cave, but with a handy head start i...

Is it true that flights are cheaper if you buy them at the airport? ›


Yes, you can save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport. However, according to travel experts, this tip only applies to ultra-low-cost airlines that charge online booking fees.

Can you get better prices by calling an airline? ›

If you book flights over the phone, you'll indeed get better airfare rates. Thus, it is preferable to book directly by calling an airline. Passengers generally prefer to book flights with the airline by calling or visiting their official website. That's because it is easy and more convenient to book.

Is it cheaper to buy a last minute ticket at the airport? ›

If a person does go to the airport in an attempt to buy a last-minute plane ticket, they may find the ticket prices to be immensely higher than if they were to book online. Ultimately, there are no advantages to buying tickets directly at the airport.

What makes flights go up in price? ›

Higher fuel costs and growing travel demand might be driving many prices higher, there are other factors that will keep cheap flight deals in the future. Will flight prices go down in 2022?

Is it cheaper to buy one-way or round-trip? ›

When traveling within the U.S., airlines typically price one-way flights at exactly half the cost of a round-trip. There certainly are exceptions, especially for those that fly out of smaller, regional airports.

How do I get the best airline prices? ›

More often than not, booking directly through the airline's website will give you the best price, or will at least be the same as the OTAs. Some airlines, like Southwest, won't even show up on sites like Expedia or Orbitz, so you have to book direct. It can also be the most simple way to book.

Do flight prices increase on weekends? ›

Flights that take off and land on weekends, or Mondays and Fridays generally cost more.

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