According to a recent survey conducted by the British travel-data company OAG, people are changing the way they travel in 2021.
More travelers are taking staycations, and when they do plan to fly, they’re booking shorter, last-minute, flights — and 27% hold off on buying tickets in hopes of getting cheaper fares.
Yet volatile flight prices are becoming the norm, and prices are indeed rising. U.S.News & World Report found that prices have begun to return to pre-pandemic levels. Most people reconsider traveling if they see a 20% increase in the ticket price.
So when should you book your flight for the best deal?
Finding the best-priced airline ticket takes a solid strategy and a little homework. Here are five points to consider and not consider when you buy your next flight ticket.
Buy tickets a certain number of days in advance
CheapAir.com says the best time to book a ticket is 64 days from the day of travel, but they warn that this is an average, and the lowest price can be found anywhere between 21 and 95 days out.
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. This is why buying a ticket too far in advance doesn’t help you save money. Your goal is to hit the price somewhere between Day 21 and 95 when airlines are motivated to sell more than buyers are willing to buy. When you buy too early, your high, early-booking prices look like last-minute late-booking prices.
Within three weeks of the flight, there is an unknowable point when the price will increase closer to the travel day. Pushing your purchase date too close to your preferred travel date will likely result in overpaying for your ticket, as airlines are less motivated to sell than last-minute buyers are to buy.
You’d have to know the supply and demand for travel to your destination to be able to accurately predict the best time to buy tickets. But it’s almost always better to buy before the week of travel when last-minute prices are typically among the highest.
Consider the cheapest seasons to travel
Are your travel plans definitive? If not and you’re flexible, traveling at certain times of the year can save you money. You’ll find the cheapest tickets when no one else is flying much. Traveling after holidays and popular vacation times are perfect for budget-conscious travelers.
You’ll find that prices, in general, are lower in the winter than they are in the summer. And they’re most expensive around holidays. Expect prices to rise around spring break in March, summer travel in June, Thanksgiving in November, and Christmas in December. The U.K. travel-search company Skyscanner says September is the best month for buying tickets and May is the worst.
CheapAir.com says to book your summer travel 67 days in advance, fall travel 89 days in advance, winter travel 68 days in advance, and spring travel 21 days in advance. Just remember, these predictions aren’t exact.
Monitor the airlines for trends in pricing. But don’t stress it too much. Airlines are only reporting about a $100 difference between the most and least expensive travel dates.
Find the cheapest day of the week
Gone are the days when you could buy a ticket on Tuesday night and know that you were getting the best price. CheapAir.com says waiting for a specific day of the week to buy your ticket is pointless, as ticket prices only fluctuate about $1 during any given week.
However, Expedia reports that prices may be cheaper on Sundays and more costly on Mondays for both domestic and international travel. Still, most changes are week to week and month to month. Don’t wait to plan your travel.
Perhaps the best answer is to look at ticket prices over time to see how they are changing. Keep in mind that most airlines allow you to purchase a ticket and cancel within 24 hours
Look for the cheapest hours of the day
Soe travel experts suggest that certain times of the day have lower prices. This isn’t true. Airlines change their prices by a few dollars several times throughout the day, but it’s pretty random and sporadic.
Airlines use pricing algorithms based on lots of factors. As such, pricing depends more on supply and demand than on time of day. When more people are buying tickets, prices go up. And when fewer people are buying tickets, prices go down. So if you tend to see prices going up later in the week and later in the evening, it’s most likely the result of more people buying.
Consider monitoring airline prices to get a better feel for the destination, route, and time you’re traveling. Set price alerts with Google Flights or Skyscanner.
The cheapest time to book international flights is a different story
International travel is a different case and can be more expensive than domestic travel. While domestic flights tend to get cheaper as the travel day approaches, the opposite holds true for international flights. International flights can be booked nearly a year in advance for the best pricing.
It’s best to book as soon as you know your travel plans, as the prices are likely to rise each passing week. Airfares to different locations tend to have different pricing and prime booking windows. The cheapest month to fly internationally depends on the country’s best travel days. For example, travel to the Caribbean is cheapest in October and the most costly in winter.
The bottom line
Predicting the best time to buy flight tickets isn’t an exact science.
The best time to buy depends on factors like destination, time of year, supply, demand, and the airline’s overall operating costs.
In general, your best bet is to buy your domestic ticket 21 to 45 days before your travel dates, but pay attention to when you’re traveling and when the airlines are the most motivated to sell.
When should you buy your plane ticket? ›
According to a 2022 study by CheapAir.com, on average, the best time to purchase plane tickets for a domestic trip is about 76 days before your departure date.Should I wait for my flight to get cheaper? ›
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.Which day is cheapest to buy air ticket? ›
Flight prices can change, depending on the day of the week. Research has found that the best days to buy tickets are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Fridays are more expensive because Fridays are popular days to travel.How many days before flight is cheapest? ›
Here's the key: Avoid booking within 30-45 days before your flight. Some airlines offer decent flight prices the in the weeks leading up to departure, but these are few and far between. In general, and especially pre-pandemic, airlines hike prices for last-minute flights.Do flight prices go down on Tuesday? ›
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly domestically. The cheapest days to depart if you're flying within the U.S. are midweek — generally Tuesday or Wednesday. For economy tickets, Tuesdays are about 24% lower than peak prices on Sundays, which translates to savings of about $85 per ticket.What time do flight prices drop on Tuesday? ›
Tuesday Around Midnight is the Cheapest Time to Book
And midnight later in the week actually gets more expensive. So put the "always book at midnight" myth to bed.
Jan. Most of the month. Once the Christmas through New Year's travel rush subsides, and school starts for many around Jan 7th.What day of the week is best to book a flight? ›
An curved arrow pointing right. Data from the new 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report from ARC and Expedia reveals the best day to book flights. Avoid booking on a Friday. The best day of the week to book your airfare is a Sunday.Why don't last minute flights get cheaper? ›
That's because airlines' automated fare systems are configured to treat later bookings as last-minute business traveler flights and price them accordingly (high, in other words). Keyes watched one trip stay at $489 for weeks, before booking on day 21; just 24 hours later, the same flight cost $630.How to get lowest flight ticket? ›
- 10 Tips for Getting Cheap Flight Tickets.
- Fly during the working weekdays.
- Have a look at airline websites.
- Think about the time of departure on the day you book your flight.
- Booking tickets via the Trip.com app.
- Last-minute deals aren't always cheaper so book early.
Do flight prices go up the more 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."
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.What is the most expensive day to fly? ›
According to Google, it's cheaper to fly in the middle of the week, rather than on the weekend. Flights that take off between Monday and Wednesday can be between 12% and 20% cheaper than weekend flights. Sundays are an expensive day to depart, Google says.Is Monday a bad day to book flights? ›
Sunday is generally the day of the week when flights are cheapest to book. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tend to be cheaper days to actually depart or fly back in.What is the cheapest airline? ›
- Southwest Airlines.
- Vueling Airlines.
Tuesday at around 3 p.m. ET has long been considered the best time to buy a plane ticket. This is because after airlines launch their ticket prices for the week on Monday night, they'll spend Tuesday trying to beat out everyone else until mid-afternoon.Will the flight prices go down at night? ›
Booking Searches Are Low
It is quite obvious that based on searches, airlines vary their prices. At midnight, fewer people are willing to open sites and book tickets. This drops down the overall price of the ticket and you can get the ticket at a very affordable price by dialing 1-802-341-3403.
According to the internet, the best day of the week to buy flights is a Tuesday. 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.Do Delta prices go down on Tuesdays? ›
Fares are usually lower on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and highest on Fridays and Sundays. Flights later in the evening are also usually lower demand. Search nearby area airports. Low fares sold out at one airport, may be available at another nearby airport.Do airlines have sales on Tuesday? ›
No, Tuesday isn't the cheapest day of the week to buy flights. In the early days of online flight booking, airlines used to manually post their updated prices at a certain time of day each week.
What are the 2 cheapest days to fly? ›
Google Flights found that the cheapest days to fly are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when fewer travelers are hopping on a plane. Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly if you're flying internationally.What time of day is best to fly? ›
According to data gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the best time to fly is between 6 and 7 a.m. Flights with scheduled departures in that timeframe arrived just 8.6 minutes late, on average. Meanwhile, flights that take off before 6—or between 7 and 8 in the morning—are fairly punctual, too.What are the most and least expensive days to fly? ›
In general, Saturdays (for domestic travel), Mondays, and Thursdays follow as the next cheapest days to fly. And the most expensive days to fly are Sundays and Fridays. Mid-week flights are usually cheaper than weekend flights.What is the easiest day of the week to fly? ›
The basic rule about choosing the best day of the week to fly is Tuesday or Wednesday. They not only tend to be the cheapest days to fly but less busy as well. Since there are fewer people who would like to fly mid-week, Tuesday and Wednesday are also the best days to fly standby.Are same day flights ever cheaper? ›
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.What is the best hour to find cheap 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.Why do airlines fly with empty seats? ›
The reported reason why airlines routinely oversell their seats is to recover costs the airline incurs for seat cancellations and for travelers who do not show up to take the flight. (On any given flight, some number of previously allocated seats go empty just before departure.)What airlines sell the cheapest tickets? ›
|Rank||Airline||Cost per Mile|
|4. (T)||Allegiant Air||$0.322|
- Use sites like Google Flights, Skyscanner and more to find the cheapest dates to fly. ...
- Use VPN. ...
- Consider flying from a different, nearby airport. ...
- Change your currency and location on the flight search engine to the departing flight's country.
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.
Do flight prices randomly drop? ›
Answer: Prices drop for flights around 60 days away from departure. This is a loose rule with a window of 45-90 days out, but I usually find my best prices about two months away from traveling. Prices also drop based on sales by the airlines and other promotions for specific destinations.Is it cheaper to buy tickets online or at the airport? ›
The Bottom Line: Buy Online
To get the cheapest plane ticket, always book online. Even if this means booking a ticket on your phone in the airport parking lot, you'll be better off. Airport ticket prices just aren't less expensive, as people seem to think.
Do Flight Prices Go Down Closer To Departure Dates? Usually, no. The closer to the departure date, the more expensive the price. More seats tend to fill the closer to the departure date.