2018 Airfare Study – The Best Time to Buy Flights, based on 917 million airfares

UPDATE: The 2019 Airfare Study has the most current information. The most asked question we get here at CheapAir.com is “When is the best time to buy my airline ticket?” With frequent fluctuations in airfare prices, it’s no wonder that buying a reasonably priced ticket can often feel like trying to hit a moving target.

when to buy 2018

With the CheapAir.com 2018 Annual Airfare Study, we aim to provide consumers with current, straightforward information and insights so shopping for flights can be as transparent, inexpensive and painless as possible.

It all starts with analyzing airfares – this study looks at 917,000,000 of them in more than 8,000 markets. We take these airfares and break down the important data points, including:

– The “prime booking window” when flights are cheapest

– How airfares trend from the day they go on sale until the plane departs

– Worst and best days of week to fly to save money on airfare

– Seasonal airfare trends, including insights on the summer travel season

One interesting finding is that the lowest fare for any one trip changed an average of 62 times during the period that that trip was offered for sale. That’s roughly once every 5-6 days. Furthermore, each change represented an increase or drop of $36, on average.

So now you might be saying to yourself—great. How can I stay on top of all of these changes in order to get one of the lowest fares? Don’t worry! The goal of our study was to make it so that you don’t have to. We crunched a lot of numbers to reveal important insights that can save you time, spare you some work, and ultimately help you get a great deal on your next flight.

In 2017, for flights within the continental U.S., 70 days in advance was the best time to buy your airline ticket on average. This is a bit higher than last year, when the magic number was 54 days in advance.

Now before you go setting calendar alerts to remind yourself to buy all upcoming flights precisely 70 days out from your ideal travel date, keep in mind these are average numbers. And while averages can be a great guide, they should not be thought of as hard and fast rules. When you drill down into the individual trips, the best time to book varied based on markets, travel dates and the individual traveler preferences. This variation is captured by what we call the “prime booking window.”

The 6 Booking Zones – Including the Prime Booking Window

If you can imagine that there’s an optimal window for getting the lowest price, then it only stands to reason that booking at other times offers certain benefits and risks. Last year we broke the entire window of time when a flight can be booked into 5 specific booking zones. This year— we added another. Here are the booking zones:

CheapAir.com airfare booking zones 2018

First Dibs
169-319 Days in Advance
(approximately 6 – 11 months)
If being the early bird is your style, then you’re in the “First Dibs” (169-319 days before travel) zone. When you book this early you’re almost certainly going to pay a premium for airfare (about $50 more on average), and you’re going to watch people on your flight get better “deals” in the future when fare sales start to kick in. The airlines like to allow themselves the wiggle room to adjust flight price when the demand (or lack thereof) becomes apparent. But there is still a good argument for buying early. When you buy early you have a bevy of flight options that can shrink as the flight dates get closer. When you’re at the head of the line you can choose your seat (and make sure your group sits together), and fly at the time you prefer, getting the pick of the best itineraries for any given pair of cities. So you might find it worth the extra cash.

Peace of Mind
122-168 Days in Advance
(approximately 4 – 6 months)
We call this zone “Peace of Mind” (122-168 days before travel) because it alleviates travel anxiety and will cost you a bit less than “First Dibs.” If paying around $20 more for better flight options doesn’t spook you and you’re not much of a gambler, “Peace of Mind” might be just the ticket. You’ll lock in flight dates and still have a decent number of flight and seat options from which to choose.

Prime Booking Window
21-121 Days in Advance
(approximately 3 weeks – 4 months)
We now come to the “Prime Booking Window”, occurring 3 weeks to 4 months in advance, and otherwise known as the best zone to nab a bargain. Hunting for cheap airfare? Focus your efforts here. Its not as though you won’t see fares change in this zone but fares average within 5% of their lowest here, and you’re most likely to see a cheap fare pop up.

Push Your Luck
14-20 Days in Advance
(2 – 3 weeks)

Like to gamble? Miss your chance for the “Prime Booking Window?” If this is your scenario, the next option is the “Push Your Luck” zone (2 to 3 weeks before travel). This close to your travel dates, the fares usually climb and a lot of the aforementioned options are selling out. However, there are pockets of luck in this zone. We can’t make you any promises but some of those lower fares may still be available. Go into this zone with eyes open – Christmas week and popular high season destinations do not have the best odds. Less popular destinations or shoulder/low season travel might be a better risk. But be warned: even though sometimes the fare might not be that much more than if you had booked earlier, the same might not be true for seat options. Most airlines only offer a limited number of seat assignments for free; the rest of the travelers have to pay more to guarantee an aisle or window. The later you book, the less likely those free seat assignments will be available. Of course, you can always let the airline pick a seat for you for no charge, but if you care where you sit, this is something to consider.

Playing with Fire
7-13 Days in Advance
(1 to just under 2 weeks)

Some people just can’t help themselves – and like to fly a bit too close to the sun. Does this sound like you? If you’ve waited to buy your tickets so late that you’re “Playing with Fire” (1 to just under 2 weeks before travel), this zone was created for you. We added “Playing with Fire” this year, because the pricing is better than waiting until the very last minute. Booking here, you’re almost certainly going to pay more than “Prime Booking Window” shoppers and there’s going to be fewer flight options available. But if there’s good news it’s that you’re going to pay about 22% less on average than the people who wait even longer to buy in the next zone, Hail Mary.

Hail Mary
0-6 Days in Advance
(less than 1 week)
Oh dear. You waited this long to buy? We’re praying for you, dear traveler. Last-minute fares are considered the “Hail Mary” zone, so-named for obvious reasons – you’re likely to pay more (on average a whopping $208 more) than buying during the “Prime Booking” window, and you’ll surely face more limited choice in seats (oh, the dreaded center seat!).

The Days of the Week Angle
Much debate and confusion surrounds the dual topics of what day of week you should shop for flights and what day of week you should fly to get the best deals. We can break this down for you. It’s actually pretty simple.

Is there a cheapest day of the week to book flights?
Not really. The average lowest fares by purchase day of week are all within $2 of one another. That’s less than a 0.6% difference. That’s a negligible amount. Book any day of the week!

Is there a cheapest day of the week to fly?
Heck yes! Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly. Sunday is the most expensive. Flying on Wednesday instead of a Sunday will save you an average of $76 per airline ticket.

Seasonal Changes
Seasonality can also impact the best time to buy. Here’s the skinny on what to expect when booking flights for summer, fall, winter and spring.

how the seasons affect airfare price

When to Buy Summer Flights
Summer is the most popular season for Americans to travel. Do not wait until the last minute if you’re on a budget. In general, we recommend buying a bit earlier for the summer months, especially when traveling in July, which is the most popular air travel month of the season. August and September are where the best summer deals can be found, with late summer offering the lowest prices overall.

• The average best time to buy is 47 days, or about 1.5 months in advance.
• Prime Booking Window is 14 – 160 days (2 weeks to about 5 months) from travel.
• The difference between the best and worst priced days is $203
• Our summer airfare calendar can help make the shopping process simple and easy – showing you the cheapest and most expensive dates to fly.

When to Buy Flights in the Fall
Fall is a good value for leisure travel. It’s shoulder season for a lot of destinations, and most people have done their big trips in the summer. Therefore, you can usually find reasonably priced tickets in the fall. The one exception is Thanksgiving week, when airfares are priced at a premium and sell out quickly. You should definitely buy Thanksgiving airfare on the early side for the best prices.

• If you’re traveling in the fall (excluding Thanksgiving), you can usually wait a bit longer to book air tickets and still not miss out on the good prices. The best time to buy is 69 days out, a little over 2 months in advance.
• Prime Booking Window is 21 – 100 days from travel.
• The difference between the best and worst priced days is $83, a number that’s not nearly as painful as waiting to buy your tickets for any other season.

When to Buy Winter Flights
Christmas and New Years weeks can be a money pit, but otherwise winter is often a great time to get a good deal. For general (non-holiday) winter travel:

• 62 days from your expected travel date is the best time to buy an affordable airline ticket in the winter months.
• Prime Booking Window is 21 – 110 days from travel.
• The difference between the best and worst priced day is $260

When to Buy Spring Flights
Springtime is a bit tricky. On the one hand, there are no major travel holidays to drive up prices on specific dates. On the other hand, “spring break” dates cover March through April and inspire travel from college students and families with kids alike. So, in general, planning ahead is key for snagging better prices.

• Exactly 3 months (90 days) from your travel date on average is the optimal time to buy airfare for spring air travel.
• Prime Booking Window is 46 – 122 days from travel. Because you have a larger window to get the best fares, buying early is not a gamble.
• The difference between the best and worst priced day is $263.

Final Thoughts
If you take nothing else away from the 2018 Airfare Study, remember this: airfares change frequently. If you have an itinerary in mind, you must be ready to buy when you see a good fare. Going away to “think about it” is risky. Other travelers are also watching fares and someone else is likely to hop on a low fare while you’re mulling things over. Be decisive.

Another key finding is that purchasing during the “Prime Booking Window” can give you a clear edge and maximize your chances of scoring a cheap flight.

Check out our Best Time to Buy Flights search tool to research your destination and get custom advice from our airfare intelligence data. And if you find yourself in a bind (perhaps you need a last minute airfare, or you don’t have the budget in advance of your trip) consider our monthly payments option or what we call “Fly Now, Pay Later.” You can make installment payments for 3, 6 or 12 months – and not run the risk of losing that great fare!

Finally, if you’re thinking that this information would have been more helpful to you if we were focused on international destinations, we’ve got you covered there too! Our International When to Buy study is out and we break everything down for you international travelers!

175 Comments

  1. So are there any cheap flights coming soon lower than $305 to buy in Aug flying out of LAX to Fort Lauderdale.

    1. HI Barbara, $305 is actually a pretty solid fare! We don;t often see cross country flights for less than $300 these days.

    1. Hi Barbara, Can you share what airport you would be departing from? That will help us give you more personalized advice.

  2. I find posting my various travel destinations at Fare alert lets me know when a fare is at its lowest–of course you have to be ready to buy the ticket at that day

    1. Yes! A fare alert can be a great way to track airfares if you, like you said, are in a position to buy as soon as you see a great price! Thanks for the input!

  3. I have a big family that likes to travel together usually about 10 adults and 10 children from 4 to 19 years of age, very difficult to get tickets and more difficult to get the same rates and hotel accommodations. Can you E-mail me some suggestions? Thank you!

  4. Really loved the article on best time to buy airline tickets-any chance you could do a similar article for overseas travel!

    Best, Chris

    1. Hi Chris, You’re reading our airfare-loving mind! We have an international version coming out next week! Check back with us.

  5. Appreciate the info on this article. I live in Chile and am planning a trip to the US to visit family. From there would like to go to Europe. Really looking forward to the international version!

  6. Appreciate the information shared in this article because fare alerts (specially which is the best time to buy flight tickets at the lowest price) are very useful for a person like me who travels a lot for business purpose

  7. I would love to have more information in addition to just average price. For instance if the question is how many days out should you look for the cheapest price, I would like to see the value of the cheapest ticket available. I think there could be a lot of information hiding in the average. The price of the most expensive tickets could be falling while the price of the ticket I am likely to buy is staying the same or even going up.

    1. Hi Cory, Your concern is valid – of course we are working with averages over all, and your specific itinerary may or may not adhere to the dataset presented. We’re confident that our study gives travelers a good feel for when they should buy, based on the millions of airfares analyzed.

  8. US-centric as usual, this the world-wide web, what about the southern hemisphere (NZ and OZ)? Seasons are different down here, y’now? And is the international version just booking *from* N America?

    1. Hi Michael – you are correct sir. Unfortunately – we are a U.S.-based company and about 90+ percent of our bookings come from Canada and the United States. For that reason, to date our airfare study has been for outbound U.S. travelers only. In the future, we may try to change that up, especially if our customers start to book from other parts of the world.

  9. I wanted to know do you have any cheaper flights going to Birmingham Alabama? In July! July the 26th to July 29th

    1. Hi Charmeal, can you share what city you would be flying from? July is the most expensive month to fly in the summer (and often the most expensive month overall – excluding Christmas – so we usually counsel people to be prepared a bit more straight out of the gate. Let me know what city you are flying from and I will let you know what’s out there that might be more affordable.

  10. Awesome analysis!! Helps to make our plans by season n days. Thanks for all the hard work. Thats why I like Cheap Flights! Always looking out for us.

  11. Hi,
    I wanted to know when is the best time to buy an airfare ticket going to Honolulu Hawaii from Vancouver airport,. We are planning to go this coming August 2018..
    Thank you…

    1. Hi Rhoda, Hawaii is popular year round (as you know – it’s that temperate year-round weather, I guess). Your dates are in the summer which tends to mean higher fares, but August seems to be holding pretty strong at right around $500 (in the latter part of the month) right now. If you’re flying in early August, you can expect to pay a bit more ($600 a ticket). It’s probably a good idea to be watching the fares closely right now – conservative advice would be to buy at the rate you see. The airfare to Hawaii are not very likely to go on sale and the longer you wait the more incremental increases in fares you’ll see (the lowest fares on any one flight will start to sell out).

    1. Hi Sheryl, Unfortunately we do not. Our report does include data from Canadian customers, but we do not break this down by country. The data is for outbound travel from North America.

    1. Hi David, I’m not sure that it is. Can you give us a bit more information on the itinerary you’re looking at and the dates involved?

  12. I’m looking for the best time to travel to Paris direct from Miami flexible dates end of December/first week of January total 6-7 days what day would you suggest departing flight times are all flexible as are departing cities fll and PBi would be fine also
    Thanks!!

    1. Kym, fares right now are priced very well from Miami. I wouldn’t wait too long – these won’t last – especially for the holiday week. The best flight right now is on Aer Lingus which does have a 3 hour stop in Dublin for $647. That’s nearly the best price I’ve seen out of Miami. Of course, most people prefer nonstops and American has one right now for just $732. This is for a Friday, Dec 28 departure returning on Wednesday, the 2nd.

      1. Hi Bec, You are traveling during a pretty popular time (summer, July) so we have to recommend you start the search now. We’re basically in the prime booking window (which stretches from about 3 weeks to 4 months out). Don’t delay!

  13. I am looking for the best time to purchase flights from Phoenix, AZ to New Orleans. We are planning to travel July 5th through the 9th.

    Thanks!

  14. We are flying from Detroit to Punta Cana 12/20 -01/04. Should we wait until June to book our flights? Do you know if Southwest will begin offering flights to Punta Cana?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Mary Kay, Unfortunately Southwest keeps things very close to the vest. They do have flights to Punta Cana through October. It’s anyone’s guess if they continue (though I’d say it’s likely). Most airlines publish their fares about 11 months out but Southwest doesn’t do so. The fact that you can’t see the fares for December doesn’t mean that they won’t be flying there in December. Check back in June.

  15. We are also looking to fly to Hawaii, specifically to Lihue at the end of September, returning to Charleston SC two weeks later. Our only concern would be leg room as I’m 6 foot 9 inches tall. We have booked already but can cancel. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Rick, The best leg room on any flight is not going to be in Economy. For your height, it’s going to be tricky to find super comfortable seating. Premium Economy or even Business Class is probably going to be a better fit for you.

  16. We are a family of 4 flying out of San Diego to Kona (Big Island) in September after Labor Day. With the recent earthquakes and lava flows, do you suspect fares will go down? Right now they are about $500 pp. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dori, It’s hard to say. If there’s a lot of damage and/or people get spooked, there is a good chance fares will go down. However, Hawaii is such a popular destination it may not go down too much. Also, $500 from San Diego is still a pretty good price to Hawaii. We generally advise that anywhere in the $500 to $600 range is a good fare.

  17. This information is super helpful, thank you! We are planning a trip from PDX to LIH next March. Prices are currently REALLY high. Based on your information above, I should hold off until Thanksgiving (or so). Any other advice that you would recommend? Thanks again!

    1. Hi Christi, Hawaii is a bit of an outlier in the leisure flight game, mainly because (because of the generally amazing year-round weather), there really is no low season. And not to put a kink in your plans (admittedly based on our advice), you might want to start looking slightly earlier. Hawaii isn’t super popular for college spring breakers (because of the distance and general expense), but it is quite popular for family spring break. Our best advice might be to start a preliminary search in late September right after summer ends. Coming from Portland, you may also see some deals (west coast originating cities sometimes have them) AND you could also consider flying mid-week if it’s a possibility. Those mid-week flights are often the best value.

  18. Thank you for this helpful article! We are planning a family trip from Reno to Orlando in early December. I know that is a popular destination. According to what you have written, September looks like the ideal time to buy. Is this still true for popular tourist destinations like Orlando?

    1. Hi Michaela, that’s a good point. Orlando is sort of an evergreen destination without much of a low season (great weather will make that happen). Having said that, early December is probably as close as you’re going to get to a low season in Orlando. Plan to start a search now – and keep your eyes peeled for any good deals.

    1. Hi Homer, September 5 is still considered summer. We follow the regular calendar for seasonality in North America, though prices do tend to drop after Labor Day.

  19. Just the other day my ticket from St Louis to Bozeman was around $442, now it’s $512 – I’m not sure if I should grab the 512 or wait for a drop? We fly out in mid July.

    1. Beth you’re right on to be conservative. This is a busy time of year for Montana. Book soon. The fares may continue to climb.

    1. Hi Anne, Thank you for the kind words. You should be able to print this from your browser. We don’t make PDFs of these posts.

  20. Looking to fly from Dallas, Tx to Oakland Ca on October 22nd. I have been watching Southwests ticket prices go up and down for weeks. When do you suggest is the best time to book?

    1. Hi Jen, It’s hard to say exactly when might be the best time to buy for specific itineraries. Watching the fares bounce up and down is a good indication that fares have not stabilized yet so I might hold off a little bit longer. Having said that, if a lower fare pops up, I would hop on it – since you’ve been watching you know what a “good” fare looks like. Once the airline hits the point where people start to buy, the fares will start to rise incrementally and will continue to rise as the lowest fares sell out.

  21. Why is it difficult to get cheap air fare from three major airports (IAD, BWI and DCA) to Seattle. I was told to wait at least 21 days before traveling. But I noticed it is difficult to get early morning flight out on the 18th of July and limited flight back on Saturday, July 28th and we cannot use morning flight due to cruise ship arrives back at 8 am and not everyone gets off the ship that quick. My husband will be using scooter and that means we may be the last group to get off the ship.
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Anne, Your problem is definitely the cruise schedule. Coordinating flights with cruise schedules can be a bear. I might not wait too long – typically there are limited flights for each cruise so that can mean you need to buy earlier.

  22. Im looking for cheap summer flights to Toronto from London (July 26/27/28 to Aug 5/6/7) but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere, why is this?

    1. Hi Jae, It’s hard to say for sure. If you just started looking, that might be the main reason. It’s a little bit late to be finding the best fares. It does look like the best fare available for your dates is going to be on KLM departing on Thursday, the 26th and returning on Tuesday, August 7th. The fare is just under $1000 USD but it does have a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam. Otherwise there are nonstop options on Air Canada for around $1,100.

  23. Traveling from Mci to Fll on 12/21 return 12/30. Family of 4. So I should buy sometime in October? Right now over $600 RT. One airline already shows a fare sold out. What about one what fares?

    1. Hi Veronica, Christmas week travel is a bit of an outlier in terms of our airfare study. It might already be too late to get the best fares for your dates. There are a lot of people looking to fly during Christmas week, and it is always a week that sells out flights. I would definitely start as serious search as soon as you can. Waiting until October is not advised for your itinerary.

  24. This information is so helpful, especially for a non-American looking to book domestic flights in the US for the first time! I’m currently planning my first trip and have no clue what a good fare typically is for the routes I need to book. I’m looking at LAX-MCO flights in the first week of Dec, is $112 (one-way) an okay fare? Or should I wait for it to go lower?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi there, That’s actually not bad. On popular routes like LAX to MCO or LAX to New York, anything in the $400-450 range return is a pretty decent fare. You can find $300-400 fares, but they are harder to snag and the time of year you’re traveling (holiday season) might make anything that low a little hard to find.

  25. Hello,
    I am looking to travel mid-May in the US — would you categorize that as Spring or Summer? How many days ahead would you recommended booking a flight?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Alexis, mid-May is technically spring, but prices do tend to skew more “summer” since this is a busy time for Americans to take vacations. What are the city pairs you are traveling so we can give you more personalized advice?

      1. Hello, just wondering if you are going to get back me? I am curious to know how soon ahead of time I should try to book in mid-May.

        1. Hi Alexis, if you are going to Seattle in mid-May, you should probably look at booking within the prime booking window. Seattle is a popular summer month, but it isn;t Orlando or Los Angeles, for example. Hope this helps!

  26. Hi there. Traveling to from Pittsburgh to Exuma end of January beginning of February. Prices please and best time to book. THANKS

    1. Prices for Exuma from Pittsburgh do not look like they have a lot of volatility, with most airfares between now and February hovering in the $500-550 range. It;s probably a good idea to start shopping now, but you may not need to decide exactly when to buy for a few more weeks. If the fares don’t start to increase incrementally, it might be worth waiting a bit. Sometimes when the fares do not sell down, you can catch a deal.

  27. My family is looking to travel to Vietnam this spring, March or April. When is a good time to purchase our tickets?

    1. Hi Jennifer, It’s definitely not too early to be beginning your search. What city is your travel originating from and to what city in Vietnam are you planning to fly in and out of? We can offer you more personalized advice if you can answer these questions.

  28. Looking for a round trip flight Friday March 22 in the early evening from Chicago to New Orleans
    and returning after 12noon on Sunday March 31. The best I’ve found is $550-600 per person. Yikes!

    1. Hi Sue, That does seem steep, though the problem is likely not to get better as we get closer to your dates. New Orleans is just a popular destination any time of the year, and can be quite possible for spring break in the month of March. I do see nonstop flights for your dates that are half of the price you’re showing on American but the times of the flights are not as specific as you need (the main major difference is that the return is in the morning on the 31st). If you need the specific times you mentioned, our best advice is to book now.

  29. Wondering what your thoughts are of group travel rates. Our group is about 24-30 passengers going from Bradley/Hartford to Las Vegas 2/1/2019 through 2/5/2019. We have done this trip for the past 4 years and paid around $300 rt. but this year all flights seem to be around $450 rt. Thanks in advance for the info.

    1. Hi Mark, This is actually outside our purview – we really don’t get into group pricing. Your best bet is to go directly to the airlines – they will have the best pricing for you with these numbers.

  30. Hi! Planning a trip to NYC April 15-19 (dates flexible) from either Charleston, SC airport or Charlotte airport. Prices are around $180ish… Normally I pay around $130 round-trip. Do you feel prices will drop beginning of the year (which would be about 3 months out) or should i go ahead and get tickets now?

    1. Hi Katie, It’s likely that fares will dip a bit after the holidays, but do keep in mind that the longer you wait the less likely the choice on seats will be as plentiful.

  31. Flying out to Fort Lauderdale for our cruise to Carribean March 27, 2019 from Ontario, CA, If i will to follow your guide, the best time tor me to buy a ticket is the last week of December 2018? is that correct? As of today, i found tickets for $871 round trip (2 adults). Do you think it will go lower by December? This is for flight from ONT Mar 26 (Tuesday) to FLL and back Apr 6 *Saturday). Any input is greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Danny, it’s probably not going to go lower by December, and to be honest, it might actually go higher. Flights tied to cruise schedules tend to sell out long before the travel dates and as we get closer to the dates your choice declines. Waiting until December means you’ll also be competing with people who are buying cruises for Christmas, If we were in your shoes, we might buy sooner rather than later. If you want to take your chances, watch the fares closely until you are ready to buy.

  32. Hello, I am traveling to Germany late August beginning September 2019. When is the best time to purchase airline tickets and is it true to purchase tickets on a Tuesday?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Elsa, It is true that the airlines typically publish sale fares on Tuesdays. It’s also true that in late August/early September you can expect to pay quite a bit less for flights than you would in the high summer season. If you let us know what cities you’re flying from and to, we can give you more personalized advice. Good luck to you!

  33. What is the price range for traveling from Philadelphia to Venice and return from Rome in the last week of June? Can you get a better price than 1300? Thank you

    1. Hi Maria, You’re looking to fly at peak US to Italy season. Without looking too closely at the specific itinerary you’re putting together, $1300 does sound like a pretty typical fare for this time of year. If you were to fly into Milan or Rome and then take a train to Venice, you could probably save a few hundred dollars, but then you lose on the convenience factor. Hope this helps!

  34. Hi, I have in mind travel to Las Vegas in the first days of March, Allegiant Airlines offer me now $800 per 4 night/ flight round-trip/ luggage for 2 people, Black Friday and Cyber monday it’s almost here: so, I don’t know if I need to wait a little more or take this deal.

  35. We are looking to fly from Houston to Denver March 10-15. The best rate for 2 adults included luggage, taxes, etc is $1,072.80. Should we hold out for a better price? We’ve been watching the prices for a couple of months now and they aren’t changing.
    Thanks

    1. When flight price don;t fluctuate that generally means that the flights aren’t selling as priced. Keep your eyes on the flight. Perhaps you’ll see prices drop a bit. Otherwise, I’d make a plan to book soon after the holidays. Good luck to you!

  36. I am looking at taking a family of 6 from St Louis to Alaska. We will be going from late June to Early July. The best deal I can find is around $930. I know it is early, so I should wait a little right? How long do you think?

    1. Hi Stephen. We’re not sure you should wait. June is high season for Alaska tourism (primarily cruises). I’m curious what city you need to fly into. When I look at flights in June into Anchorage, they seem to be right around $500-600. Are you flying to a different city?

  37. Hi,

    My friends and I are looking to travel to Spain in August 2019. We found a ticket for $564 from the Miami airport. Should we wait or is this a good price?

  38. Looking to fly out of Norfolk Virginia Feb 21st to San Juan, PR. Coming back March 8th. Prices are all over the map. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Lulu, You should probably buy soon. March is prime “spring break” travel time for both families and college students. If you have found a low price to San Juan, you should jump on it before it starts to climb!

  39. Am planning a trip from Washington DC to Calgary August 8-16. Is it too early to book flights? Am not seeing much selection and seat choices seem limited.

    1. Hi Marco, It’s not to early to book. The airlines generally put their published fares out 11 months out, so you may be looking at what’s available for your dates. It’s always possible that they could add another flight, but we always advise people not to bank on the prediction game. Are you looking to fly on a particular airline?

  40. Hi, what is a good fare price from GEG (Spokane, Wa) to UVF (St Lucia). Dates June 14-24th. We will have two adults and four kids. Also should we book about 3-4 months in advance? Thanks for the great article!

    1. Hi Nichole, Flights from Spokane to St. Lucia that are at a “good” price tend to be in the $800-900 range. Your dates are currently booking at that price, but the closer we get to the summer months the less inventory in Economy will be available, AND you might have your party split up on the plane. If these are older kids, that might not matter too much to you – but if you’ve got little ones, you should probably start to seriously think about purchasing just after the holidays (in January or February at the latest). It’s possible that the low fares will still be around if you wait until later to book, but in the summer months there does tend to be a slow climb in price for Caribbean destinations. In addition, St. Lucia was relatively untouched by the 2017 hurricane and because of this, has seen an uptick in general tourism. Keep a close eye on the fares if you want to wait a bit.

    1. The best fares are just under $170 round trip right now and that looks like about as low as it’s going to go. Our best recommendation is to buy now. Remember – if you book with us, we do offer “price drop payback” so if the fare should go down after you book we’ll refund you up to $100 per ticket. For this route, it’s not likely to happen – but that’s a nice bit of insurance in any event. Whoever you decide to book with – make sue you do it soon. Fares won’t say low, especially since spring break travel will drive up prices as we get closer to the dates.

  41. Best time to book a flight from Denver to Honolulu in,March 2019, for 4? What is a typical fare at that time? Thank you

    1. Hi Amie, You’e in the sweet spot right now for a best time to buy. Hawaii doesn’t really have a low season (as you probably know), but March is still far enough away from peak honeymoon/wedding month (June) and the busier summer months. Having said that, it is spring break, so you probably don’t want to wait too much monger to snap up the best fares. Typical fares range from $500-650 and looking at what’s available right now, that’s holding true. Good luck
      to you!

  42. Will be traveling to Fort Lauderdale from Detroit with our family of 12. 7 of us are leaving on March 23. 4 will be returning on March 30 while 4 more come to FLL on the same day. 7 will return to Detroit on April 6. 1 of our college grandkids will join us for a few days in the middle of the trip. Prices are sky high right now especially on the return on April 6($800-1,400 each person!)
    I’m used to paying $300-400 for these flights. Any suggestions?
    Much thanks

    1. Hi Stuart, These prices do seem pretty high! I’m not sure if you have limitations (as to airlines you’re willing to fly or flight times). That may be why the costs are so high. I am finding flights as low as $374 on Spirit for the March 23/March 30 folks (next cheapest is Delta for $587. Them the March 30 to April 6 folks have nonstops on Delta for as low as $650 That flight is later in the day. An earlier scheduled flight on the same day is $720 round trip. If you can give me a bit more detail I can look into this further. If you’re searching for the flights in groups, that could be the problem. Try searching for individual tickets rather than in groups. Hope to hear from you.

  43. Me and a friend are looking at flying from Lubbock, TX to Las Vegas, NV around March 9th – March 13th, 2019, when would be the best time to book for the lowest rate?

    1. Hi Ashten, flying out of Lubbock it looks like the fares are about $400-500 round trip. With that in mind, we wouldn’t wait as those prices are not cheap to begin with. March is spring break for a lot of folks, and Las Vegas is popular for college students and families these days.

  44. We’re flying from LAX (or LOS ANGELES AREA AIRPORTS) to FLL/MIA on May 9 REDEYE returning May 18, 2019. The lowest so far is $320 PP from LAX – FLL. We have 5 in our group. Should we wait or jump on it now?

    1. That price is actually very good. Anything in the ballpark of $300 is a price we’d jump on cross-country. While the price will almost certainly go up the longer you wait, it’s not likely at all to dip lower. This is generally the best cross-country price we see.

  45. We are flying from GJT to FLL leaving 6/1/19, returning 6/11/19, 4 adults. So far about $600 per person for our preferred flight time. Which means leaving and arriving decent time. Should I wait 1 or 2 month (70days out) or should I book it now?
    Thank you for your help.

    1. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned “preferred flight time.” There are currently flights for around $475 on United, but the flight that leaves in late afternoon, doesn’t get in until almost 11pm. Whenever a client is looking for specific times, you can assume that others are eyeing that flight as well. In your situation, we won’t advise waiting. It’s much more likely that the flight you want will sell out and you’ll be left with less desirable flight times.

    1. Hi Clarence, Can you narrow your dates a bit for us so we can provide proper information? If you’re flexible between July 13 and July 17 for the outbound? Let us know.

  46. Hi! I’m looking to book a flight from Chicago to Las Vegas. Departing May 16th and return May 21st. Would you suggest that I still wait to for prices to drop? Or would it be a better option to purchase tickets now? Currently look at prices at around $230..

    1. You’re definitely looking at flights in the budget airline category (Spirit and Frontier both have flights in this price range). I would hesitate to wait much longer, especially since those fares might go up before they go down.

  47. We are looking to fly out to Denver from BWI around 6/6 to 6/10. Dates are somewhat flexible. We are a family of 3, and prices appear to be around $400 rt. Debating whether I should jump now, or sit and wait a little longer before purchasing. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Meredith, I see fares as low as $242 on your dates (on discount air carrier, Frontier). Of course, Frontier charges for carry-ons as well so may not be the most economical once you pay for bags. United has flights for $305 round trip for your dates as well!Let us know if you need help sourcing these.

    1. Hi Peter, Where are you going and from what gateway? I can give you personalized suggestions when I know where you’re headed. In general, it’s probably not too early to be looking at flights over July 4th domestically right now. Summer is quite busy and that week is historically the busiest and most expensive.

  48. You’ve mentioned Hawaii is an outlier (maybe it needs its own guide). Any recommendations on when to book for flights for travel during the last week of July returning first week of August? OKC LIH

    1. Hi Bill, Thanks for the suggestion. We probably could come up with a standalone guide to Hawaii. When we say Hawaii is an outlier, it generally has no low season and tends to have a steady stream of visitors each year. It’s hard to say exactly when the best time to buy for Hawaii, though summer is busy starting in late May, peaking in June (so many weddings and honeymoons) and slightly tapering for July and August. It’s not too early to be looking now. Kauai doesn’t get nearly the number of visitors as Oahu or Maui, but they still do get quite busy in the summertime. Decent fares from Oklahoma City are in the $600-700, but you can expect to pay $800 and up for your dates. Don’t wait too long to buy!

  49. Hi, what the best time to buy a ticket for a flight from Istanbul (Turkey) to Cairo (Egypt) through the period from first of June and back on firs week of August?

    1. Hi Mo, It’s not too early to be looking. Summer flights are quite popular and will sell out. Starting the search now is probably a wise move.

  50. CheapAir,

    Great information. I have a question as it relates to prices for flights on smaller jets (Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 200) that only seat 46 passengers. I am trying to get my mother to fly from Green Bay (GRB) to Eureka, CA (ACV) in mid-August and return in early November. Last week, round trip ticket was $515 – $700+ and today I saw it jumped from $615 – $880+. August is 6 months out, so I am not worried… I also went through the process of pretending to purchase tickets on United and when it came to seat choices, all seats were still available. So my main question is : Does the Prime Booking Window still apply for these smaller planes? Wouldn’t they book up more quickly? Do you have any information on how quickly these jets fill up? I tried searching and couldn’t find anything.

    I am thinking of waiting until May to buy the tickets… but would hate to miss out and be left with choices that will not work. For example, a 1-hour layover in Chicago will not work… getting from one terminal (where the jets land) to the other terminal (larger planes) takes about an hour and my mother is in her 60s.

    Thanks for any info you can provide,

    Cheers,

    Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew, It’s true that the smaller planes fill up more quickly. Another thing to keep in mind is that when these little airplanes have the most attractive schedule, that can also cause those particular flights to sell out. I would definitely plan to watch closely – you don’t want to miss out on your preferred flights. Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to know how fast a particular flight is going to sell. The best insurance is just to buy the flight you need as soon as you can. Good luck to you!

  51. Hi, I’m looking to book a flight from YYZ to HNL. Departing July 5th and return July 13th. I’ve been tracking the price for the plane ticket for the past three months. It used to be around $850-900 CAD but it’s now close to $1000CAD.. I’m not sure if I should just buy the ticket now or wait for another couple of weeks.

    1. Hi Hailey, Hawaii is kind of a tricky destination. There’s not much of a low season and really – most of the year it’s pretty busy. This year, some of the low cost air carriers have started serving Hawaii which means that it’s seeing even more tourism. It’s possible that the fares you’ll seeing WILL come back down, but to be honest, it’s not likely. When you see incremental increases, that usually means the lower fares are selling out. Buy sooner rather than later!

  52. I fly quite a bit each year and book my own flights. It certainly can be challenging at times. I’ve often wondered why airlines dont just have fixed prices no matter when you purchase a ticket? It would appear that would be in the best interest for all!

    1. That might be the best plan for consumers, but airlines like the flexibility to raise prices as demand warrants. As long as people will buy their flights, I don’t think they’ll change their fares. It would be interesting to see how a new airline might disrupt things if they adopted your model. They might steal a bunch of business! 🙂

  53. I’m wondering about what you refer to upthread as “seasonality”. For example, is early June considered spring or summer? And is March winter or spring? Just need some clarification on that, and thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Rachel, When we include “seasonality” in our airfare study, we used the calendar definitions of the seasons. In 2018, that means that we have Winter from (Jan 1-March 19), Spring from (March 20-June 20), Summer (June 21-Sep 21), Autumn (Sep 22-Dec 20), Winter (Dec 21-Dec 31). Hope this helps!

  54. Hi, my hubby and I are traveling from SLC to BDA Sep. 17-24 to celebrate our 20th anniversary and I am targeting March as the month to buy airfare, or at least becoming familiar with the fares. We’re also leaning toward extending the trip by 3 or 4 days to MHT or BOS beforehand. The only thing locked down at this point is our cottage reservation in Bermuda. When do you suppose would be the most optimum time to buy?

    1. Hi Betsy, We’re about to publish our 2019 Airfare study, so we should have some specific advice for this year in just a few weeks. Overall, your target for starting a search in March seems reasonable. You are heading to Bermuda in high season, but your flights to Boston should be more reasonable. Logan is likely to be a better deal than MHT. Hope this helps. Please reach out if you have additional questions!

  55. I’m trying to get decent price tickets from Albany NY to Tucson Az, from 5/22-5/26. The prices are about $417 and above. Do you think the price will be coming down or is that a decent price?

    1. Hi Kim, I think these prices are about as good as you’re going to see from Albany to Tucson for your dates. Albany and Tucson are both smaller, more regional airports. You could shave off about $100 if you flew from Manhattan to Phoenix, but then you’re dealing with additional drive time on both ends of your trip. It’s probably not worth it in your case.

  56. I’m always booking peak times in February and Easter break when Northeast schools are off and flying south is twice the normal….Any suggestions??

    1. Where are you headed Claude? Cam you also share your origin city? We can look at the dates and try to offer some shortcuts for you.

  57. I am heading to Lebanon from Hamburg/Ger end of July (probably 27 july), wehre is the prime booking window? and in general when is the best time to book to Middle east?
    thank you!

    1. Hi Imad, We are putting out our When to Buy International Study for 2019 in the next few weeks. Last year, about 6 months out was the best time to buy flights to the Middle East from the U.S. Our study though, deals with outbound travel from North America (Canada and the U.S.) an the prime booking window is specific to those customers. Each outbound market requires a different data set to review, and the bulk of our customers are U.S. and Canadian. Having said all that, we can make some generalizations that should hold up for you. If there are not specific events (sporting or religious) going on in Beirut for your dates then you probably don’t need to purchase as far out as you might otherwise if there was a big football match or religious festival. In addition, you can watch the fares closely for a few months prior to your ravel dates to get a sense of the fare volatility. If the fare holds strong, you can assume that the fares are not selling down, and you can afford to wait and see if the airline discounts the price at all or puts the flight on sale. On the other hand, once you start to see movement in the fare (either down or a spike), that would indicate it’s time to buy!

  58. Need you help with the cheapest flight to Grenada West Indies leaving from ft lauderdale Florida Aug 2-19. Thanks

    1. Hi Glenda, Fares from Fort Lauderdale are quite high. We’d recommend leaving from Miami to save a couple hundred dollars. In addition, the flights departing from Fort Lauderdale have extremely long flight times with somewhat strange routes, considering the proximity to the Caribbean. The flights from Miami are a bit less expensive and have more direct routes. Can you give me an idea of your flexibility? Can you leave from Miami or are you okay with paying more (and the less direct routes) to leave from Fort Lauderdale?

  59. Planning to fly to Rome on Nov 10 and be back Nov 25 .When is the best time to buy our tickets. From Houston .Thank you

    1. Hi Eugenie, Last year the best time to buy tickets to Europe was, on average, about 5 months out from your travel dates. We are publishing our 2019 “When to Buy International” report in a few weeks, so it might be a good idea to check back with us here on the blog when that post goes live.

  60. Hey, so I am looking to fly to Hawaii from Lax. When is the best time to buy that flight since it is not the continental U.S.? I plan to be leaving last week of August.

    1. Hi Kelechi, It’s time to buy that ticket now. Not sure if you are traveling within the United States or internationally, but either way, don;t delay if your flight is this year.

  61. My family and I want to go to Disney World this summer from June 24 – June 27. We live in Chicago and we have two airports to choose from. MIDWAY Airport and O’HARA Airport. What would be the best time to book this trip?

    1. Hi John, you should start your search right away. Flights to Orlando are always at a premium during the summer months, though June and August tend to be slightly less than July. It’s not too early to search – good luck to you!

  62. Thanks for this service! For Christmas, my wife and I are headed to Seattle (actually Bellingham, which is sometimes cheaper than Seattle, strangely) from GRR in Michigan. How long do you think we should we wait to purchase? (Reading through comments it sounded like Christmas was an exception to your winter advice…) Thanks!

    1. Hi Mike, Yes you’re correct. Christmas week prices are usually set at a premium straight out of the gate, and they tend to sell out (its the one time of year airlines can pretty much guarantee that people will pay more to fly). We would recommend you not waiting too long – buying in the summer will probably be okay – but if you are particular about where you like to sit on the plane or have a particular flight you’d like to take it might be smart to shop even earlier. In general, flights for Christmas don’t go on sale. A fare you see now will almost certainly climb and not dip.

  63. Hi there, my boyfriend and I are planning on traveling to Maui July 31st to August 6. Do you think it’s too early to book our flight? We saw some flights for $460 is this fair price?

    1. Hi Erika, Where are you planning to travel from? $460 sounds like a pretty good price fro Maui in the summer months.

    1. Hi Jason, The good news for you is that you’re in that sweet spot between the more expensive periods of Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can probably get away with waiting until later in the summer (or possibly even early fall) to get the best fares for these dates.

    1. Hi Roseann, the airlines will be publishing fares for May 2020 in June of this year (airlines publish fares about 11 months from departure dates). It is likely that the publish date will not have the lowest fares – the lowest fares tend to be in that prime booking window our study discusses. If your preference is to have better seat selection, you might want to buy on the early side, however, when specific choices like seat selection and itinerary are better.

  64. We are going to cozumel late September. When would be the best time to purchase tickets? Still in August?

    1. Hi Ashley, Our International Flight Report is suggesting the best prices for Mexico happen about 80 days out from your travel dates. So I wouldn’t wait until August. It’s probably not too early to start your search now, but definitely plan to buy sometime in July for the best prices, on average. Of course, if you’re shopping earlier and you see prices start to climb, you should hop on those rising fares…https://www.cheapair.com/blog/when-should-i-buy-my-international-airline-ticket/

  65. We are traveling from Indianapolis, IN to Miami, FL in October. The fares seem really high right now. My wife and I are in a disagreement. She believes that schools fall breaks will make the rates increase. I am willing to wait the 60-90 days out window as you suggest in hopes the rates will fall. Do destination vacation spots affect the price of tickets enough to buy now? Thanks for your time Matt

    1. Hi Matt, This is a tricky one. Both of your arguments have merit. We tend to fall slightly more on the side of your wife. Fares in October are more shoulder season fares (even to Miami), but because people will be traveling for fall break it’s probably not a great idea to wait too long. In general, I would say that it’s a low to moderate risk to wait if you want to see what happens for a bit. If you see incremental increases as you wait (a few bucks here and there), you can assume the lower priced seats are selling out (and sales not likely to pop up).

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