While air travel is growing more popular for domestic and international trips, it can still be challenging to navigate. How do you know which airline to go with? What about excess baggage? How long will security take? It can all be a bit much, especially if you’re new to flying. One of the most common questions people have about upcoming travel is how far in advance they should purchase their tickets. If you’ve wondered the same thing, keep reading for everything you need to know about the best time to book flights.

The Variables

It’s impossible to answer when to book flights that will work in all situations. Many variables go into the cost of a flight, like the time of day, time of year, whether it’s around a holiday, and how popular the flight is. Today, we’ll discuss when to book flights for domestic, international, and holiday travel.

Domestic Flights

If you’re staying in the country for your trip, it is recommended that you purchase your tickets around nine weeks before your flight. This will usually give you the lowest price on domestic flights. However, this also depends on the season. While nine weeks is average, you’ll want to book further in advance in certain instances. For example, nine weeks early is a great time to book a summer trip, but you’ll need about 13 weeks before a winter trip (thanks to the busy winter holidays), the busiest flying season in the US.

In general, tickets are at their highest prices when they are initially released (sometimes a year before the flight) and in the last couple of weeks before the flight departs. Purchasing between one and three months early will get the best price, but you should check in regularly to see when the prices drop.

International Flights

Traditionally, it’s been better to purchase international flight tickets around a year in advance. However, travel trends are changing, and people aren’t planning that far in advance anymore. Nowadays, long-distance international travel to Europe or Asia requires only a six-month timeframe to get the lowest prices. Meanwhile, traveling closer to home to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean means you can get cheap tickets around two months before the flight.
It’s wise to check your destination country’s peak tourism seasons; these will incur the highest ticket costs due to the high demand. Going off-season may be more suitable financially.

Holiday Flights

Flights around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be incredibly expensive, especially if you leave them off until the last minute. To get the best deals, fly closer to the actual holiday date. For example, the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are cheaper to fly on. On the other hand, you should book as early as possible for Christmas/New Year flights to save money.


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