When Is the Cheapest Time to Book Flights?

Since I haven't won the lottery yet, I'm always on the lookout for ways to make travel more affordable. I've discovered that strategically booking my flights is an easy and great way to do it. I want to help you guys save some money too. So here's the answers to some of the questions you may have about booking cheap flights.

Photo Credit: David Becker



What are the best days of the week to buy airfares?


According to Hopper, the best time to book flights is Tuesday at midnight. Travellers who search flights during this time save approximately 6% on their airfares. Tuesday not a good time for you? Hopper also discovered flights were more reasonable when bought Monday through Wednesday at midnight. I wouldn't take the midnight part too seriously though. In my experience, I've found flights to be cheapest when purchased anytime from Monday to Wednesday. 

The most expensive day to purchase flights is Friday around 3am. This is probably due to the fact that most seat sales start at the beginning of the week and end right before the weekend. My best advice is to avoid booking later in the week. 

Booking on the right day will save you some coin but not very much. If you want to make a big impact on your flight costs, you'll need to consider how far in advance you buy your flights. 

Photo Credit: Emran Kassim

How far in advance should I book my domestic flight to get the lowest fare?


CheapAir did the research and they found on average, the best time to buy a domestic flight is 47 days in advance. The prime booking window is 27 to 114 days in advance (1 to 4 months is a good rule of thumb). Use these figures as a general guide. Everyone has different travel plans and prices vary greatly depending on where you want to go and what time of year you're travelling. 

Photo Credit: David Kernan

How far in advance should I book my international flight to get the lowest fare?


The best time to buy an international flight is at least three months in advance. Unlike domestic flights, international flights cost less when you book them super early. CheapAir found most international flights open 335 days before departure and don't drop in price much. These airfares sit at the same price for a few months and then slowly start to increase. Once they've reached 90 days before departure, the prices start to accelerate at a higher speed. 

Remember, these are very general guidelines and you'll need to consider other factors when booking your international flights. Are you going to Europe in July? Seasonality changes the game completely. Summer is the most popular time to travel to Europe so flights fill up fast. In this case, you're best off booking your airfares 9 to 11 months in advance.

Photo Credit: mrhayata

Tips on how to find the cheapest flights


1) Clear your cache and cookies
If you've been doing multiple flight searches, clear your cache and cookies. Sometimes airlines jack up the prices when they see you've been searching the same thing over and over again. Delete your history and you may find airfares go down.

2) Have a flexible travel schedule
Try to fly out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Not many people want to fly during the middle of the week or on the weekend. Airlines still need to fill their seats which is why they generally offer better deals on these departure days.

3) Fly at undesirable times
Flights leaving before breakfast or during dinner time are cheaper than flights leaving between meals. Think you can sacrifice a night of beauty sleep? If so, opt for a red-eye (overnight) flight. 

4) Don't procrastinate or rely on last minute deals
Last minute flight deals are like unicorns. I've never seen one or got one. Don't get me wrong, there are last minute deals in the travel industry but you'll mostly find them for all-inclusive vacations, cruises, or tours.

5) Not all search engines are created equal. 
I use Skyscanner because it gives me the best prices every time. Cheapoair is great if you have a flexible travel schedule. Run a search and Cheapoair will show you the cheapest dates and times to fly out. 

6) Fly with low-cost airlines
Flying with low-cost airlines saved me tons of money when I travelled through Europe and Asia. Check out my Flights 101 post for a list of my favourite low-cost airlines and find out everything you need to know when flying with these types of carriers. 

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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