When it comes to planning the perfect holiday, there's a lot to think about. Which destination should I choose? How much are the tickets? And, how far in advance should I book a flight?
It can feel like a bit of an unsolvable conundrum as you try to align the different colours of the holiday rubix cube.
Ensuring you get the best deal on your trip makes it that much sweeter, and less stressful!
But, gauging how far in advance to book that flight to New York can be a bit of a head scratcher.
Plane tickets are in a constant state of flux, rising and falling dramatically from the point they go on sale.
The price of your airline ticket can change based on the day of the week, departure date and time of year.
Read on to discover how to find the ultimate sweet spot when booking tickets in advance. We’ll make sure you discover the prime booking window and secure the lowest fares!
How Far in Advance Can You Book a Flight?
Regarding booking flights in advance, the length of time that airlines allow varies depending on who you are booking with. However, as a general rule of thumb you CAN book tickets up to a year in advance!
There is disparity here though. Airlines like Jet2 allows passengers to book up to 18 months in advance. But, Slovenian airline Adria Airways permits you to book only 212 days in advance. So, you need to find out what works best for you.
But, remember, just because you can book your flight up to a year in advance, this doesn’t mean you should.
At least, not if you want to save money on your flight tickets and secure the lowest price.
How Far in Advance Should I Book a Flight to Get the Best Deals?
When you book your flight, you want to make sure you get the best flight and the best prices.
Generally, for the cheapest flights you should aim to book your tickets between three weeks and four months before your date of departure.
However, there is a difference between international and domestic flights. If you’re taking a round trip from Washington to Seattle you can afford to delay purchasing your tickets.
But if you’re heading to Italy from Boston, get organised and book further in advance to ensure you get a low fare. We’ll go into that more now…
How far in advance should I book an international flight?
Booking an international flight can be both exciting and daunting, especially if it's your first time crossing the pond!
However don’t let this spook you into making a rash decision. While you may want to be prepared and have everything sorted, ticket prices will be sky high if you book TOO far in advance.
You should ideally aim to book your international flight between 1 ½ months to 5 ½ months for the best flight deals.
Additionally when flying internationally, how far ahead you should book varies based on the region you are visiting.
When flying to Asia, in the last few years the cheapest flights were purchased 7-9 months ahead.
However within the last year the cheapest airfare for Asia was purchased around 3 months in advance. The best average low price you can expect is around $1,113.
So, whether you want to see the temple ruins in Cambodia, or try out the street food in KolKata, make sure you don’t wait too long. Otherwise it’s going to cost you a fair bit.
If you’re FINALLY planning on taking that trip to Marrakesh to ride a camel and visit the spectacular Ouzoud falls, you may want to book a LITTLE further in advance. Be sure to make your advance purchase around 4 months prior to take off.
The average low cost of flights to African and the Middle East rests around $1,238.
For a romantic trip to Venice, book your European flight 160 days before your travel date for the best prices. The average low cost fare for this region is about $1,151.
You’re a daredevil at heart and dream of paragliding in Lima and mountain biking along death road in Bolivia. In this case you should aim to book your flight 110 days in advance. For this trip you’re looking at around $845.
Perhaps you have a wedding to attend in Bora Bora, and although you’re a little concerned about the pricey nature of this venture, you can’t miss it.
For this occasion, you should book your flights around 197 days in advance, if you want to be able to pay rent upon your return. The average low fare here is around $1,708.
How far in advance should I book a domestic flight?
With domestic flights the procedure is slightly different. So, I hear you say, “how far in advance should I book a flight?” Well, as a general rule you should aim for around 7 ½ weeks.
Perhaps you’re planning a spring break trip to Florida to soak up some sun or you’re visiting your grandma in the Southwest for her birthday. Don’t be too preemptive with your purchase. Whip out your credit card at the right time to secure the cheap flights!
Once you’ve bagged yourself those tickets, you may be wondering what you can take with you on your flight. What can you get through customs and what food can you transport?
Head over to our blog to find out what you can bring on a plane and which are the best snacks to keep you satisfied on your flight.
How late can you book a flight?
You may need to make an unforeseen, spontaneous plane trip. Perhaps it’s an urgent business meeting to secure a new client or more unfortunately a relative may have fallen ill and you want to wish them well.
You’ll be glad to know then, that you can book plane tickets within a two-hour window before the plane departs.
While last minute travelling can be a bit of a headache, with all that last minute packing and rushing around, there are last minute deals too!
Getting in touch with the airline is your best bet to find out if there are any unoccupied seats for last minute excursions.
If you’re prepared to get up at the crack of dawn, or after the clock strikes 12am, you can secure some great last minute deals. Prices can be slashed by hundreds of dollars.
Some airlines even offer a bereavement discount for passengers who are travelling last minute due to a death in the family, or a funeral.
What is the cheapest day to buy tickets and fly?
If you’re a savvy traveller, you may be aware that on specific days plane tickets are cheaper than on other days.
So if you fancy a few days out in the big apple, or an expensive day shopping in L.A, you may want to know which days of the week are cheapest for flying. Save that cash for the splash!
What are the cheapest days to fly?
When planning a domestic flight in the US, you will want to find out which day is the best day to fly.
For booking cheap tickets, your best bet is choosing a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
The price drops on these days purely due to the fact that most people don’t want to fly mid-week, or they want the whole weekend to enjoy!
When flying internationally, you should choose a weekday over a weekend if you want to save yourself some pennies.
Conversely, the worst days to fly domestically if you want cheap tickets are Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday.
This is because of the nature of business trips and the behaviour of holidaymakers.
Those flying for business are likely to leave late Sunday night so they don’t miss the weekend or early Monday morning.
After a long week of hard work, travellers on business are likely to return on a Friday ready for a much deserved weekend. Or, if they finish up late, Saturday morning.
Likewise, those going on holiday are likely to leave on a Friday evening or Saturday morning. They usually return home Sunday evening in time to head back to work on Monday.
However, you should bear in mind that these rules DON’T always apply. There are so many different factors influencing the price of tickets, and the best days can’t always be predicted.
So, to make sure you bag the cheapest plane tickets keep an eye on comparison sites and be mindful of these fluctuations.
What are the best times to book a flight?
It is to be expected that certain times of the year are better to fly than others. So, you may be wondering what is the best time to fly?
If you’re planning your summer holiday, you may be worried that it’s going to cost you a fortune! But, if you shop intelligently you can be sure to save some bucks.
Opt for late summer (August-September) if you want to have some extra change in your pocket to spend on souvenirs.
The Spring may inspire you to take a trip, perhaps you’re finally going to take the plunge and see Honshu Island in Cherry Blossom season. Or, maybe you’re going to visit Goldfield Mountains in Arizona.
Well, while springtime doesn’t have any particularly big holidays driving up plane prices, it is the season of the dreaded spring break. For this reason, it’s best to plan ahead a book your tickets around 3 months in advance.
Say you want to catch the falling leaves in Utrecht, or see the bright autumn colours of Budapest,you’ll likely be able to find some pretty cheap tickets.
However the one to watch out for is Thanksgiving week. Plane tickets run out quickly around this time, so buy early to avoid the extra expense and disappointment
Winter is typically a great time to travel, apart from Christmas and New Year, which massively hike up prices.
Although, in January, ticket prices are substantially less expensive. This is great, because January is exactly the time of year that you need a little bit of a pick me up.
Whether you’re whisked away on a weekend trip to Paris or you have an aching desire to see Boston’s January Celtic Music Festival, you’ll be able to do it cheaply.
What’s cheaper a non-stop or connecting flight?
Another thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to save some dough is whether you should choose a direct non-stop flight or a connecting flight.
You could probably guess that flying directly to your destination is the more popular choice when it comes to purchasing tickets.
Because of this, you’re likely to save something if you pick a connecting flight, sometimes even up to 50%.
While you save less on domestic flights, when it comes to international flights you can save hundreds.
Final words on plane ticket travel tips
There you have it, a comprehensive guide for the best times to purchase plane tickets for the cheapest prices.
With any luck, we’ve answered your burning questions. And, hopefully we’ve given you some helpful hints and tips on how to avoid overpaying for your dream holiday or that last minute business trip.
Doing the ground work certainly pays off when it comes to purchasing your airfare, and will help you plan your journey with more ease.
It also means you have more money to spend on the things you love. Whether that's mountains of canelés on your trip to Bordeaux or the latest Bottega Veneta from Milan.
However, things don’t always go to plan, and some of you unlucky travellers may be hit with flight delays, overbookings or cancellations! Way to throw a spanner in the works, right?
But, don’t sweat it, if you do face such disappointments with your flight, you may be entitled to flight delay compensation. If that’s the case, we’ve got your back.
Check out our free flight compensation calculator to discover how much flight delay compensation you’re entitled to.