Perhaps you’re planning a trip in the fall of 2024 or you’re already compiling a list of places to visit. To get the best deal, when should you book your ticket and how far in advance can you start looking for flights?
Travelers are plagued by these questions. It’s more art than science to find cheap flights: The question of how long in advance to book your flights cannot be perfectly answered. However, there are some broad rules you can adhere to regarding when to start your research and when to make that buy.
The Flight First Rule should be observed above anything else. Instead of securing a pricey airfare, you allow yourself the freedom to travel when it’s less expensive by beginning your trip preparation by looking for flights. This is particularly valid if you intend to utilize points and miles to pay for your travel or if you’re organizing a significant foreign vacation. Now, whether you’re going overseas or domestically this year or next, let’s examine when is the optimum time to book flights.
When Is the Best Time of Day to Book a Flight?
It should go without saying that the best time to book a flight is when it’s on sale. The finest offers rarely last long, and flight prices are always fluctuating. When you locate a good deal, reserve it. Make a reservation for a flight you’ve been watching if the price reduces.
Our motto is to plan your trip by booking the cheapest flight first and then assembling the remaining components. It’s the best strategy to save money on travel and is known as the “Flight First Rule.” Traveling throughout the week can result in significant savings on travel, especially if you choose to take a cheap airline or leave on a Tuesday rather than a Monday. We may not have previously thought of these locations, but cheap travel prices have taken us there.
That isn’t always effective, though. Perhaps you’ve already decided on your travel dates and destination; all you need is a cheap flight to get there. If so, there are certain guidelines regarding when to make reservations and when to begin looking.
We always advise travelers to make their flight reservations at least 30 to 45 days in advance. Don’t imagine you can find a last-minute deal by waiting until a few days or weeks before departure. Airlines usually increase the cost of their flights in the last days and weeks before departure because they know that desperate and business passengers will do whatever it takes to get to their destination. If you make your reservation farther in advance, you’ll probably receive savings.
Additionally, we advise travelers to look for flights as soon as possible. You can browse for travel in early 2024 as most airlines provide sales up to 11 or even 12 months in advance. Though you can keep an eye on price changes and make a reservation after costs decrease, you might not always find the best deals when searching so far in advance.
Even better, to be informed when the price changes, create a Google Flights price alert. If costs drop drastically, you’ll receive an email alert. This is a convenient way to know when to book your flight, especially if your travel dates and destination are set in stone.
When Is Best to Book Domestic Travel?
The optimum time to book flights for domestic travel within the United States is usually one to two months in advance of the trip. As usual, we advise you to begin your search as early as possible. Recently, airfare has increased, particularly for domestic travel. You’re less likely to find a deal if you wait too long to make a reservation. If you’re traveling for a special occasion, such as a wedding or a large music festival, set up a Google Flights price alert and reserve your seat as soon as the price reaches a level that suits you.
How Far in Advance Can I Book Flights for the Holidays?
Holiday flights are nearly usually more expensive. It therefore makes sense to plan even further in advance. According to data from Google Flights, the best deals for Thanksgiving are typically available 36 to 74 days before the trip, with the lowest point occurring on average 52 days out. That means you should start looking for Thanksgiving flights around September 10 to get the best deals. Usually, the finest prices go on sale around October 19 while the lowest fares may be obtained around October 2.
This implies that you should aim for Thanksgiving travel beginning immediately following Labor Day. The selection is even wider around Christmas and other winter holidays. According to Google Flights, the best airline deals are often found between 20 and 88 days in advance if you’re planning a domestic Christmas trip. Around September 28, you should start looking for domestic Christmas flight bargains at the lowest prices; these offers end around December 5.
Making your reservations at these times will get you the best flight deals. By changing your travel dates to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays, which are the cheapest days to fly, you can also save hundreds of dollars. Furthermore, if you have firm plans for your holiday trip, a Google Flights price alert might be your best bet. To be alerted when rates drop, set it as early as possible and make your reservation as soon as possible.
When Is It Best to Use Points & Miles to Book Flights?
You may require a whole other approach if your goal is to use points and miles instead of cash for travel. Using your miles to book a flight is frequently more complicated than just purchasing a ticket. A growing number of big airlines, including United, American, and Delta, as well as smaller ones like JetBlue and Southwest, base their mileage policies mostly on the cash price: the more expensive something is, the more miles you’ll need. In light of this, you should avoid utilizing Delta SkyMiles or American AAdvantage points for last-minute travel when costs often soar.
When employing points and miles, time is everything, and that final element is crucial. Whether you want to spend your money on a first-class or business-class ticket, which airline to use, and which miles you want to use for travel in the economy can all have a significant impact on the availability of awards. Although there are always going to be exceptions, the following are some general guidelines to follow:
- It is usually considerably easier to find seats in economy that may be booked with miles unless you are traveling during holidays or other periods of high travel demand.
- Attempting to board in business or first class? There are two primary places to use miles to reserve premium cabin awards.
- Extremely early: Airlines often issue at least a few business class award seats as soon as their schedules open, which is eleven to twelve months in advance.
- Very late: Booking two to four weeks before departure may be your best bet because many airlines dump any empty premium cabin seats that would otherwise go unfilled.
What is the optimum time to book a flight, in terms of days?
There isn’t a clear-cut solution. However, it’s important to avoid making reservations 30 to 45 days before departure. There are a select few airlines that provide reasonable flight costs in the weeks before departure. According to data from Google Flights, the average time for domestic flight fares to drop is 44 days before departure. The lowest airfares for foreign travel are often discovered approximately four months in advance.
Your chances of finding a deal increase the earlier you begin your travel search. Flight costs are erratic; they fluctuate considerably before the aircraft takes to the air. Watch the cost of flights and make your reservation as soon as the price you find acceptable. As long as you buy a main cabin rate or higher, you can always cancel your journey for a travel credit or voucher and rebook if costs drop.
Which day of the week is ideal for making travel plans?
There is no special day of the week to locate inexpensive flights, as we have stated time and time again. The long-held misconception that Tuesday is the best day to purchase airfares is untrue. Low-cost flights can appear every day of the week, at any time. For this reason, we advise adhering to the ticket First Rule: after you locate a low-cost ticket, book it, and then begin assembling the remainder of your itinerary.
Every day, all day, our team of flight deal analysts looks for the best deals to send to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. Not all of the week’s top deals and fares occur on a single day. In actuality, we discover low-cost flights, mistake rates, and unpublicized award sales daily throughout the year.