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The Cheapest Time to Book a Flight May Be Further in Advance Than You Think

Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder


Think you’re snagging the best travel deals by booking your flight eight weeks in advance? Well… you might want to book even earlier than that if you want to score the lowest prices.

CheapAir.com analyzed 917 million airfares for its annual airfare study and found that travelers typically get the best deals on domestic flights if they book about 70 days (10 weeks) before their departure date.

That’s a significant jump from last year’s recommended 54 days in advance.

If you’re not that precise when it come to travel planning, CheapAir says the prime window to book flights is between three weeks and four months before an upcoming trip. Prices will fluctuate (fares for a given trip tend to change an average of 62 times within an 11-month time span), but fares purchased during this time window should stay within 5% of the lowest price.

Sure, you could test your luck at finding a last-minute low fare. But CheapAir found travelers who book seven to 13 days before a trip pay an average of $85 more than those who book within the prime booking window. Get your ticket less than a week out and you risk paying an average of $208 more than travelers who booked three weeks to four months ahead of time.

Buying a plane ticket too far in advance can also result in a financial penalty. Those who bought tickets 122 to 168 days in advance paid $20 more and those who purchased airfare 169 to 319 days in advance paid $50 more.

CheapAir found the best time to book varies by season. You’ll want to book 69 days in advance to get the best prices for a trip in the fall but only 62 days in advance for a winter getaway.

Those planning summer trips should get their flights 47 days days in advance. (There’s still time for a late August vacation!) Spring breakers need the most advance planning as the best prices for spring flights pop up 90 days ahead of time.

If you’re wondering when’s the best day of the week to buy your airfare, CheapAir’s study says it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what day of the week you plan to leave or return. Travelers save an average of $76 by flying on a Wednesday (the cheapest day of the week) instead of on a Sunday (the most expensive day).

And if you book on CheapAir.com, the company will reimburse travelers with travel credits up to $100 if they find the price of their flight drops before their trip.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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