Best Time To Buy International Airline Tickets
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The best time to book a flight is generally one to two months out for domestic trips. For international flights, book six to eight months out for the best deals. However, there are many factors that can lead to an increase (or decrease) in the price of an airline ticket.
According to travel booking site Hopper, flying midweek will score you the best prices. Tuesday and Wednesday are typically the cheapest days to fly domestically. For international travel, midweek is also best. Hopper recommends departing earlier in the week (between Monday and Wednesday) and returning later in the week (between Tuesday and Thursday) for international flights.
You can filter your search by the number of stops, flight duration, airlines (handy for eliminating carriers you definitely do not want to fly with), and departure and arrival times. You can also filter by the number of bags you want to check, all of which helps travelers find the best deals that meet their specific needs. (For instance, I am often traveling with two small kids, so shorter flight times and fewer stops are more important to me than the absolute rock-bottom prices.) You can search more than one origin or destination airport as well to expand your options.
Other sites and online travel agencies may do it, but airlines aren't manipulating airfare pricing based whether you've searched for a flight two or three, or 13 times. Our team searches hundreds of routes daily. If airlines were playing these tricks with cookies, we'd never be able to find a flight deal!
If you don't have the time to commit to searching for cheap fares frequently, we've got you covered. Get instant alerts to the hottest domestic and international flight deals, mistake fares, and award sales we find with our Thrifty Traveler Premium+ service. We find flight deals seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we're already seeing deals for travel for winter 2024.
In general, and especially pre-pandemic, airlines hike prices for last-minute flights. They assume only business travelers and travelers who need to be somewhere soon are that buy airline tickets last-minute. Airlines know these travelers will pay whatever it takes to get there. And trust us, you don't want to get stuck in that position a few weeks before a trip.
Never bank on getting a last-second fare. Instead, we recommend booking your flight at least 45 days to 60 days before a domestic trip. For international flights, give yourself even more time: start looking at flight prices at least two to six months beforehand. These general rules of thumb will help make sure you're not paying too much.
With the Christmas holiday, the range is even bigger. If you're looking to travel domestically over the Christmas holiday, the lowest flight prices can be found, on average, between 20 and 88 days ahead of time. For the lowest fares, you want to start searching for domestic Christmas flights around Sept. 28 and the best deals are all gone by about Dec. 5. Need to get home for Christmas
Instead, research by Expedia shows the ideal day to book a flight is Sunday. For domestic flights, you can get the best airfare by booking at the end of the weekend. Doing so can save you around 5%. For international flights, the savings are nearly 10%.
Looking for the best time to buy tickets to Europe or other international locations Book a summer trip. Expedia data shows that August is the cheapest warm-weather month to fly, with average ticket prices nearly 10% lower compared with July. Tickets are also cheaper in August than during the December rush.
According to a recent study by Expedia, the cheapest day to book flights is Sunday. When comparing Sunday flight prices to Friday, Expedia found that travelers save 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights. For the past four years, Sunday has been the best day of the week to book flights.
Another reason to book international flights in advance is to take advantage of price drops. Basic economy fares are still generally non-changeable on most airlines. However, standard economy fares can now be freely changeable on many U.S. airlines.
During the height of the pandemic, most U.S. airlines eliminated change fees on standard economy tickets. This change opened the door to a new way of ending up with the cheapest flight: Book early and rebook at a cheaper rate when your price drops.
Sunday is widely considered the overall best day to book flights, according to most airlines and travel reporting agencies. Other analyses have pointed to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday being the best days to book flights, at least domestically.
Feel free to step into your role as the early bird and cast the airline ticket as the worm. You might be able to save a few bucks by booking around 5:00AM, especially if you do it on the best day to book flights (Sunday).
There's no real rhyme or reason to booking flights a specific time of day, since airlines adjust their rates on a demand-driven basis. However, you may have luck finding slightly lower rates when booking your flight around 5:00AM.
If you want to see the world, go see it! You're not guaranteed tomorrow, and, often times, you can buy an international plane ticket for less than a domestic one. Traveling to new places has changed our lives, and we hope to share our experience, insight, and passion with you in order to inspire you to change yours as well!
Flight search websites compare fares available at multiple airlines, online travel agencies, or both, then sort them by price. I've tested a number of them on a variety of journeys, both transatlantic and within Europe. Overall, Kayak has the best results for both intercontinental and intra-European flights on a combination of mainstream and budget carriers. An alternative is Google Flights, which has an easy-to-use system to track prices and lets you see how much you'd save by departing a day earlier or later.
While it's possible to book your flights on most search sites (they certainly hope you will, to garner their commission), I typically use these sites only as a first step. Once I've zeroed in on which airline has the best deal for my trip, I check the airline's own site to compare fares. You can often avoid added costs by booking direct (the commissions are charged either as higher prices or in the form of fees for booking through a third party). And airlines may offer bonuses (such as extra frequent-flier miles) to those who book direct.
Buy your tickets at the right time (to the extent possible). Airfares flex like crazy, but in general it's wise to start looking for international flights at least four to six months before your trip, especially for travel in spring, summer, or fall. Good deals on winter travel (November through March) can usually be purchased a month or so in advance, with the exception of winter breaks and holidays, which require even earlier booking. Year-round, it's generally cheaper to book midweek.