How Far Ahead Should You Book A Flight To Get The Best Price?

When booking flights, especially when paying cash, it’s always tough to figure out when you should book. Should you do it 6 months ahead? Should you wait till the last minute for possible discounts? We now have an answer. Maybe not an exact answer since this is not really an exact science.

when to book

Best Time To Book

Moneyish got an early look at research from CheapAir, which analyzed 921 million flights to figure out when you should buy tickets to save money. Here’s the average number of days ahead you should book depending on your destination:

Destination When to buy
Continental U.S., Canada 54 days ahead
Hawaii 79 days ahead
Caribbean 76 days ahead
Mexico/Central America 61 days ahead
Europe 99 days ahead
South America 81 days ahead
Asia 90 days ahead
Africa, Middle East 119 days ahead
South Pacific 89 days ahead

These numbers are averages, but they should give you an idea when should expect the best prices for your specific route. In general you should book anywhere between three weeks to three months and a half before you fly.

The research shows that prices of flights will change 71 times between when the flight is announced and when it takes off, and each change averages $33 up or down. That means that you can easily overpay or get a good deal just by booking a few days sooner or later.

The best way to go about it is to check what is considered a good price for your flight and keep an eye out for deals an discounts starting months ahead. Or maybe look into scoring some easy miles through sign-up bonuses.

Worst Time To Book

Well you can probably guess. It is the day before you fly. If you wait until the last day, you’ll pay $249 more than average. People who try to book less than two weeks ahead of time trying to score those coveted “last minute” deals won’t do all that much better. On average, they’ll pay $150 more than those who book within the 3 week to 3 ½ month-ahead window.

When To Fly

If you want to save money on airfare Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to travel. You will save an average of $73 per ticket, according to the CheapAir analysis. Sunday is the most expensive day for air travel.

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