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Cheapest Times to Book a Flight

Are you looking for the cheapest flight? You’re not the only one. Whether you’re flying to visit family or for a great vacation, we’re always searching for the lowest airfare. We now have a greater variety of prices and options with online travel agencies, discount providers, and other substitutes for traditional travel agents.

The Reasons Behind Fluctuating Airline Ticket Prices. 

Flight tickets rarely become cheaper in the weeks leading up to departure. It is usually cheaper to book your flight between four months and three weeks before you leave. You should expect airfare increases after that period, based on the CheapAir.com 2019 Annual Airfare Study.

The fact that a compounding factor may affect this is, of course, possible. Prices can vary during different seasons and during holidays, for example. Using the study as a guide, here are the sales patterns for airline tickets.

The Volatility of Air Travel Prices 

The discount airline company CheapAir.com analyses millions of flights and ticket prices each year. During a study conducted by CheapAir.com in 2019, more than 917 million flights were examined in 8,000 markets. The results show that flight prices are driven mostly by volatility.

According to the study, the flight prices fluctuate depending on the time between the purchase and the departure, the season, and if the flight is to Hawaii, which is different than any other flight. Price is not affected by the day of the week, however.

The Six Zones

According to CheapAir.com, the number of days prior to departure determines the number of booking zones for airfares. The website also notes what to expect during each of the zones.

Early Birds (203-315 days) 

This period is more expensive than waiting for the lowest fares. When it comes to itinerary and seating, you may have more options during this time.

Peace of Mind (116-202 days in advance) 

There is a $20 difference between the price of tickets during this period and the lowest airfare. Even so, there is still plenty of good flight and seat options.

Prime Booking Window (21-115 days in advance) 

During this time period, fares are usually within 5% of their lowest prices. Taking advantage of this time is the best way to find the best deals.

Push Your Luck (14-20 days in advance) 

When travel is in high demand, prices rise. It’s too late to book a flight that’s convenient for you, and the best seats have been reserved. However, you might luck out and find a lower fare at this time.

Playing with Fire (7-13 days in advance) 

On average, you can save $135 by buying your tickets during this period rather than waiting until the last minute, but it might not be the best time to do so. You have fewer choices for flights and seats during this period as well.

Hail Mary (0-6 days in advance) 

Flights during this time should be avoided unless a last-minute emergency arises. If you book during the prime booking window, you’ll pay an average of $220 more.

Seasonal Considerations 

It can be helpful to follow CheapAir.com’s general recommendations in the six booking zones when purchasing airline tickets. However, these recommendations may change with the season.

  • Fall: There are generally better deals available for fall travel if you wait a little longer. On average, you should plan to purchase your tickets 69 days in advance. Travel during Thanksgiving week, however, should be planned earlier.
  • Winter: Holiday travel around Christmas and New Year is almost always more expensive, but other than that, winter can be an affordable time to go. Try to purchase plane tickets at least 94 days before travel during non-holiday periods. 
  • Spring: Since people travel during a wide range of days during spring break, it is important to plan ahead when traveling during this period. Book your tickets 84 days in advance if at all possible.
  • Summer: American vacationers prefer this time of year. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets 99 days in advance during this period.

Special Considerations for Booking Flights 

CheapAir.com outlines tips and windows of time so that you can shop around for the best possible flight. Moreover, don’t forget to take advantage of bargains when you find them. Waiting may cost you more money in the long run. You’ll end up paying more the longer you wait, which may not be good for your budget.

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