Is there a sweet spot for when you can buy airline tickets at their lowest prices? GOBankingRates spoke with several travel experts to determine the cheapest windows of time to book a flight for domestic and international travel.
We also break down the best day to buy plane tickets, and the best ways to time the purchase of your flight tickets.
Best Time To Buy Flight Tickets: Domestic Flights
Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, recently conducted a study on the best time to buy flights in 2023. Findings in CheapAir’s 2023 Airfare Study reveal that if budgeting is your top priority, the sweet spot to yield the lowest prices for travel is to book one and a half months to five and a half months in advance.
“In today’s climate of inflation, staffing shortages and accelerated travel demand, it’s best to book in the earlier part of the window,” said Klee.
Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay, also recommends booking travel between one to four months out for domestic flights.
“Any closer than one month and you’ll start to see those prices tick up, or worse, they might sell out,” said Dittakavi. Travelers may use the time in-between to watch price trends and get an idea of the best price for their destination.
Best Time To Buy Flight Tickets: International Flights
What if you plan to take an international trip? Dittakavi said to begin watching trends eight to nine months in advance. Then, plan to book your travel around seven to eight months before the flight.
“When looking for flights, you should avoid flying on weekends,” said Dittakavi. “Tuesday to Thursday offer better deals to fly and you want to avoid flying during the peak season, so summer is obviously going to be more expensive around the holidays when the flights get bumped up.”
What’s the Best Day To Buy Plane Tickets?
Numerous stories online often cite purchasing plane tickets 76 days before a flight is scheduled to depart as the “sweet spot” for inexpensive airfare. Does that still hold true in 2023?
While Klee said the best day to purchase flight tickets does fluctuate year over year, the best day to buy on average in 2023 is approximately 70 days out from your departure date.
Nicole Hunter, travel blogger at Go Far Grow Close, has been to over 65 countries in the last 40 years. Hunter has purchased countless airfare and said unless an airline is having a sale, the cheapest tickets are offered mid-week.
“I recommend tracking the best flights and prices that you find for at least two to three weeks before you purchase your flights if you are buying closer to your trip (four months or earlier),” said Hunter. “You can figure out what the best price is and then, purchase it when it is offered.”
Which Months Are Least Expensive To Fly?
“On average, January and February are the least expensive months of the year to fly,” said Klee. “This time of year offers the best value as travel demand increases timed to holidays in December and November, as well as vacation travel during June and July.”
Travelers planning to fly during expensive holiday seasons, like Thanksgiving, or spring break, that are heading to popular destinations are still advised to buy tickets as early as possible. Hunter said the prices will rarely go down in high season months — those seeking cheap flight tickets will find them offered between nine to 12 months earlier.
When in Doubt, Buy Flight Tickets Early
Hunter said the cost of airline tickets is often driven by supply and demand. “When the airline has not sold many tickets, the price is often low in order to incentivize customers to purchase their tickets,” said Hunter.
As the plane starts to fill up, the tickets will increase in price. If the plane continues filling up, Hunter said the price will continue to climb. If purchases stabilize, then the airline will lower the price once again to attract more buyers.
To avoid increasing prices, or not getting a seat on a sold-out flight, Hunter recommends purchasing tickets as early as possible. “I have found unbelievable deals buying tickets months and months in advance.”
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