Tips and Tricks on How to Book Cheap Flights
With the holiday season around the corner, air travel is expected to see another big boost. But as many people look to book flights, affordability will be one of the main concerns. Over the summer, especially early on, ticket prices surged to record levels. Travelers were eager to enjoy their first post-pandemic summer with minimal restrictions.
Now prices have gone down a bit, but are expected to increase again as we get closer to the end of the year. So Google Flights is aiming to help. In a new blog post, its team revealed an analysis of five years’ worth of historical airfare data to look for any reliable patterns. Check out some of the tips below to se how to book cheap flights, or at least improve your chances on getting a good deal. Also make sure to check some of the deals we post here on the site.
Cheapest days to fly
Historically, it’s been cheaper to fly in the middle of the week than on the weekend — especially Sundays. On average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday have been 12% cheaper than weekend departures. If you exclude international destinations, the potential savings jump even higher to 20%.
Nonstop flight versus taking a layover
Convenience will cost you. But if you’re able, and willing to include a layover, that’s your best bet to save money when you fly. On average, nonstop fares have been 20% higher than a flight with stops.
Best day of the week to book your plane tickets
The myth is that if you book on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, then you’ll see cheaper prices. While that seams to be true, savings are minimal on average, so it’s not really worth waiting to book, especially if your trip is approaching soon. Google Flights data shows that if you shop for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays instead of Saturdays or Sundays, prices have only been 1.9% cheaper on average over the past five years.
The ideal number of days before departure to book a flight
For U.S. domestic flights, prices have usually been their lowest 21-60 days out, with average prices bottoming out 44 days before departure. But keep in mind that these patterns may not hold true for your specific route, so planning and booking early is usually a good idea. below you can find specific windows based on when you’re traveling:
- Thanksgiving or Christmas: For domestic Thanksgiving travel, you’ll want to plan a bit further ahead. In the past, the lowest prices have usually been found 36-74 days before departure, hitting their lowest point 52 days out. For domestic trips around Christmas, the lowest average prices have been 22 days before departure, but that may be cutting it close. Prices have tended to drop anywhere between 20 and 88 days before departure.
- Spring break flights: Ready for some fun after the winter doldrums? For domestic trips beginning in March or April, prices have typically been lowest 23-59 days before departure, and 38 days out is when they’ve hit their low point.
- Summer vacation: School’s out and summer’s in. For domestic trips beginning in July or August, prices have been lower 14-44 days before departure, and the lowest average prices are usually 21 days out.
- From the U.S. to Europe: For trips to Europe from the U.S., prior trends suggest you’ll want to book on the earlier side. You will find the best deals usually 129 days before departure and prices tend to be lower anywhere between 50 and 179 days out.
- From the U.S. to Mexico or the Caribbean: In prior years, average airfares from the U.S. to Mexico or the Caribbean have been lowest between 37 and 87 days before departure, and 59 days out is when they’ve hit their lowest point.
How to use Google Flights to book cheap flights
Google Flights shows you if the prices you see in your search results are low, typical or high. Search for your origin and destination and you’ll see price insights to let you know whether the current price is a good deal, compared to prices cataloged over the past 12 months for similar flights. On select searches, you will also see if prices might change significantly in the future.
Turn on price tracking so you don’t miss out. Toggle on tracking for your destination and dates of travel, and you’ll receive an email if prices change substantially. Or, if you’re more flexible on when to travel, you can turn on tracking for ‘Any dates’ to get notified of price drops for flights departing in the next 3 to 6 months.
Use the calendar view, date grid and price graph to see how fares change. The calendar view and date grid let you see how much you can save if you’re flexible on your departure and return dates. The price graph shows you what prices look like for an ‘X day’ long trip, depending on the departure date.