CheapAir.com’s 5th Annual Airfare Study Reveals the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Airfare prices are volatile with a capital “V”. Did you know that the average economy fare changes a total of 61 times before a trip? So it stands to reason the number one question we get from customers is “When should I buy my airline ticket to get the best deal?”

when to buy airfare 2019

Luckily, we’ve got tons of data and a crack team of analysts to help you make that all-important travel decision – the best time to buy your airline ticket.

The CheapAir.com 2019 Annual Airfare Study is based on an analysis of 917 million airfares in more than 8,000 markets. Following the recommendations could save you hundreds of dollars on your travel this year.

This report will break down:

  • The average “best day” to buy your airline ticket
  • The airfare booking “zones” – what you can expect to pay for an airfare depending on when you buy
  • How to identify the Prime Booking Window™ – the range of dates you’ll be most likely to find a low price
  • The best and worst days of the week to fly based on price
  • How seasonality affects the price of your airline ticket

As you can see, this is a ton of information. But don’t worry. We’re going to break it down in digestible and easy-to-understand bites.

We’ve already done the research and we’re serving it up free. Before you know it, you’ll be buying those flights with understanding and confidence!

For 2018, the “best day to buy a flight” domestically (within the continental U.S.) was 76 days out from your travel date. That’s slightly higher than it was in last year’s report (70 days). Let’s take a bit of a deep dive into the different “booking zones” as airfares fall and rise. Each zone has benefits and risks.

The 6 Airfare Booking Zones

We came up with booking zones to easily chart what an airfare looks like from the approximate time it is published about 11 months out, all the way up to the very last minute you can buy your ticket. Over the years we refined these zones to reflect the subtle differences between each. And we think this system is solid for showing you what you pay (depending on when you buy). Let’s dig in.

airfare booking zones 2019

First Dibs
315 to 203 Days in Advance
(about 10 months to 6.5 months)
We like to recommend First Dibs for buyers with an agenda. You know who you are. You’re less motivated by price and more motivated by your flight preferences (such as a certain flight time or seat) and you want to lock in plans well in advance. Flights in the First Dibs zone do cost about $50 more per ticket than flights in the Prime Booking Window (the most affordable zone), on average. If you like to have many options, however, there’s no better time to buy.

Peace of Mind
202 to 116 Days in Advance
(about 6.5 to 4 months)
Peace of Mind is where you might want to land if you’ve got anxiety surrounding big airfare purchases coupled with FOMO for a good deal. When you’re in the Peace of Mind zone, you’ll likely pay just about $20 more than flights in the Prime Booking Window and you’re still buying early enough to have a decent amount of choice.

Prime Booking Window
115 to 21 Days in Advance
(about 4 months to 3 weeks)
This is where the magic happens, travelers. And while some of the other zones have shifted slightly from one year to the next, the Prime Booking Window stays pretty solid. What does this mean? Well, the data shows that the lowest airfares tend to pop up about 4 months to 3 weeks in advance of your travel dates. Fares in this zone are within 5% of their lowest point. Bargain shopping? Stay in the sweet spot – the Prime Booking Window.

Push Your Luck
20 to 14 Days in Advance
(3 – 2 weeks)
We’re heading into gambling territory once you get within 2-3 weeks of your travel dates. The odds of getting a “cheap ticket” start to decrease heading into the Push Your Luck zone, though if you do like to roll the dice you may still find cheap tickets. One important factor to consider – though there could be lower priced fares in Push Your Luck, the quantity and quality of seats is more limited the closer we get to the travel date. You may find yourself paying slightly more for a subpar seat.

Playing with Fire
13 to 7 Days in Advance
(2 – 1 weeks)
No matter how long we’re in the airfare prediction game, we find that some people just like to play with fire. Hence, we carved out the Playing with Fire zone. You’ll almost always pay more than Prime Booking Window buyers, but pay less (close to $135, on average) than people who wait until the very last minute to buy. In this zone, choice is even more limited.

Hail Mary
6 to 0 Days in Advance
(less than a week)
How did we get here? Usually, people who are buying in the Hail Mary zone are doing so because of an unexpected trip, not because waiting until less than a week from your travel date was a conscious choice. You’re going to have to cope with the least amount of choice in the Hail Mary zone, and you’re apt to pay almost $220 more than you would have if this ticket was purchased in the Prime Booking Window.

Hawaii as Outlier
Our 50th state is a bit of a standalone. We do not include Hawaii in our main airfare data for a couple of reasons. Hawaii’s distance from the mainland in conjunction with its unique characteristic as a leisure destination means that is has a different dynamic. Check out our separate post on Buying Flights to Hawaii for the best tips and strategies for snagging a low fare to the islands.

There are other factors to consider aside from when you buy that will affect your travel budget. Let’s look at days of the week, for example.

Do Days of the Week Have an Effect on Price?

We can start by dispelling one myth. What day of week you purchase a flight has a negligible effect on flight cost. The average low fare only varies by $1 based on the purchase day of week. Whether you buy that ticket on Tuesday or Sunday it’s going to cost about the same.

On the other hand, there are definitely less expensive days and more expensive days to fly. Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly, nearly $85 cheaper on average than the most expensive day of the week to travel, Sunday. Wednesdays are also great days for air travel. Friday is the second most expensive day of the week to fly. A good rule of thumb – weekends are more expensive and midweek flights save travelers cash.

Don’t Underestimate Seasonality

What time of year you travel can also have an impact on your flight cost. We broke down the seasons and included the most popular time frames in each, to offer travelers an easy reference for finding the best fares. This simple chart tells the story:

seasonality and airfare price

When to Buy Winter Flights
If you can avoid Christmas week and ski destinations, most winter destinations offer good value for the money.

  • The average best time to buy is 94 days from travel (just over 3 months)
  • The prime booking window is 74 to 116 days (about 2.5 months to nearly 4 months)
  • The average domestic fare for winter travel is $433, by far the most expensive time of the year for air travel
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $168, which is quite a bit lower than in other seasons. There is much less volatility in airfare pricing all season.

When to Buy Spring Flights
Plan ahead for spring flights. There are no major travel holidays in the spring, but both families and college students enjoy spring break for much of March and April. Take advantage of lower mid-week prices to help keep costs down.

  • The average best time to buy is 84 days from travel, or nearly 3 months
  • The prime booking window is 47 to 119 days (about 1.5 months to just under 4 months)
  • The average domestic fare for spring travel is $354
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $285

When to Buy Summer Flights
Americans travel a ton in the summer, and the peak summer dates of June 15 – August 15 are when the bulk of travel happens. You can find the best deals the closer you get to the end of the season (late August and September will give you the best odds to score low airfare.

  • The average best time to buy is 99 days out from travel
  • The prime booking window is 21 to 150 days (about 3 weeks to 5 months)
  • The average domestic fare for peak summer travel is $365
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $260
  • Late summer and early fall is shoulder season, and as such, offers great deals (Labor Day weekend notwithstanding). Flying the second half of August on into September is the sweet spot for these deals.

When to Buy Fall Flights
Overall, fall offers great value for budget travelers. Fall is shoulder season for a lot of destinations, and people simply do not travel as much. Of course, the one exception to this rule is Thanksgiving week. Traveling during Thanksgiving? Better buy on the early side.

  • The average best time to buy is 69 days from travel
  • The prime booking window is 20 to 109 days (about 3 weeks to 3.5 months)
  • The average domestic fare for fall travel is $342, which makes it the best season to find travel bargains
  • The difference between the best and worst priced days is $280

Takeaways

Airfares change all the time. Don’t get bogged down in watching the tiny, incremental fluctuations. We recommend buying an airline ticket when you see a good fare and not hesitating or waffling. Since fares change a lot, when shoppers go away to think about it “for a while,” they’re often disappointed when they come back to find that the good fare has disappeared. Be prepared to buy.

Bookmark this page or commit the Prime Booking Window to memory. It’s where you should focus the bulk of your shopping efforts. Keep in mind that there is still volatility within the prime booking window. Though you can expect peaks and valleys in price, the best fares on average will be found here.

Also, keep in mind that CheapAir.com will “protect” your purchase with Price Drop Payback. Should your fare drop after you buy, we’ll reimburse you up to $100 per ticket.

Need advice for your next vacation abroad? Check back soon for our International When to Buy study results.

Happy Travels!

175 Comments

  1. Want LAX to Saigon about October 15th for 90 or so days. No long layovers & a seat with leg room; I’m 6′ 3″.

    1. Hi C. You’re in a bit of a conundrum for the cheapest fares. Right now fares are about $600 round trip for your general dates. It’s likely that fares will go down a bit if you wait a couple of months to start a serious search (would not be surprised to find fares in the $400-450 range from LAX). However, because of your height and the fact that you’re avoiding the long layovers I might suggest that you take one of the $600 fares. The best seats (with the most leg room) and the flights with the best itineraries are not likely to be the $400 RT fares (the airlines know what they’re doing and those most attractive seats / flights tend to stay priced at a premium). In your case, I’d buy on the early side and pay a slight premium for the comfort and itinerary choice.

      1. I am looking at a round trip flight out of Las Vegas to Tulsa,OK to visit family July 16th-23rd. I’ve always heard to book 6 weeks at 3pm on the Tuesday. Is this a good rule of thumb to go by? I’m just trying to get a good price. Thank you!

        1. Hi Meghan, People say to book on Tuesday because that is the day of the week when the airlines typically publish their sale fares. Not sure why 3pm – we haven’t heard that specifically, but it probably makes sense to book as early in the day as you can on a Tuesday if you are hoping to grab a sale fare – those great “deals” are often quite limited. For your dates, the best prices are currently sitting at around $268. Waiting until 6 weeks out is within the “prime booking window” so that’s a good place for you to land (though, we do recommend you use our dates as a guide and it’s never a bad idea to look at fares early). Good luck to you!

    2. Hi I’m leaving CA to go to New Zealand at the beginning of 2020 – Jan 3 is when I would like/earliest I can depart.
      I am currently finding some tickets for 1850. should a wait another week or do you think the prices will go down a little more.

      M. Smith

    1. Hi Arlene, Look for our International Airfare Study. It comes out in a couple of weeks, and will have tips for flights to the Caribbean.

  2. What a great article! As a former travel agent it gave me more up to date information. I was very helpful for helping friends and family book flights.

    Yorba

    1. We’re always so happy to hear from people “in the biz” who find our site useful. Thanks for the shoutout!

  3. I FIND BETTER TO BUY FLIGHTS WITH STOPS THAT DOESNT INVOLVE HOTEL RESERVATIONS THAT IS MOST OFTEN DURING MEDWEEKS TUESDAYS THRU THURSDAYS BUT DO NOT LAYOVER MORE THAN 8 HOURS TO AVOID HOTEL CHARGES

  4. Ive yet to see chesp air fair going to little rock Ar. Why is that. I want to fly out of Watertown NY. Price are high or lay over are long. Like 8 hours to 36 hours. I could drive there faster than that.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Yes, this can be a problem for travelers departing out of smaller, regional airports. Though Watertown is an international airport, I suspect this is because of flights to Canada. We usually suggest driving to larger airports when that’s feasible – for you that would be Syracuse. Fares out of Syracuse are regularly $280 or so round trip – about $75 less than flights out of Watertown. The cost savings is not enormous but you do cut down on those long travel times. Most of the flights our of Syracuse are in the 4.5 to 5.5 total travel time ballpark. You can’t really avoid a long travel day from your two cities, unfortunately.

  5. Quiero boletos ida y regreso a Miami, Fla. Estadía 90 días (+o-) al precio más bajo posible no importa las fechas, tengo tiempo libre. Talvez me pueden ayudar con esas tarifas y fechas que puedo viajar a un precio bajo. Muchas gracias de antemano

    1. Hi Cece, Can you share the dates you’re planning to travel? If you’re completely flexible all month, we can also provide you the best fares available.

    1. Hi Ralph, That is a great question. Hawaii is an outlier as a destination (for the reasons outlined in this post). The cost to fly to the mainland from Hawaii can also be an expensive proposition, but more for the reason that its distance from us makes gas prices more. Now, if you’re flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles (a popular summer destination) in July you probably will see prices at a premium. Flying to Los Angeles in spring, fall and winter (setting aside Christmas week) will save money.

    1. American, UNited and Delta all have nonstop flights for right around $150 for your dates! That’s about as good as fares will get. Book soon!

  6. Looking for some info on American Airlines travel voucher.$700.00 , expires in Nov. 2019. Not sure how to use and if it can be used on international air travel. Please advise.Thank-you!

    1. Hi Ionie, Can you share where you are hoping to travel and from which airport? We can help you with your plans if you provide us with a bit more information.

    1. Hi Mark, That’s a great question. Unfortunately, our data is for outbound North American travel (from both Canada and the U.S.) Most of our customer base is from North America so for now, we’re keeping the study focused on that market. Having said that, we have been getting more and more inquiries like yours. If we decide to branch out a bit, we’ll almost certainly include Europe so we’ll keep you posted!

  7. Wow great to kno,thank you ive bought tickets for me ,later my mom,and planing a getaway trip soon this info.great to know,wish some day I can win a trip????

  8. This information has been very informative. I will in future take all of this in consideration.
    Thanks and I will share this with others.

    1. Hi Michael, Great timing! We are about to publish our international report next week. I’ll make sure to link to your comment just as soon as the report is published.

  9. Buenas Tardes

    Estoy planeando un viaje de Colombia a Argentina para Octubre o Noviembre y quería saber para cual de los dos meses se consiguen boletos más económicos y comprándolos con cuanto tiempo previo?

    Gracias!

    1. Buenas tardes. Octubre es más barato volar a Argentina. Noviembre es más popular para los turistas, por lo que la tarifa aérea es más.
      Compra tus entradas más temprano que tarde para los mejores precios.

  10. We’re looking to buy round trip airfare to Helsinki from Minneapolis in mid September for three weeks. Would love to travel Delta, when would be the best time to buy? Price doesn’t seem to change. Do you think it will? Thank you.

    1. Hi Tari, it’s a bit too far out yet to say definitively whether or not the fares will change, but it’s likely. When travelers are willing to be flexible with itinerary and airline, we often recommend waiting (sometimes even as close to the travel dates as 3 weeks can turn up good deals), but when you’re looking to travel on specific airlines and routes it’s usually best to buy early. I see fares for under $1000 in September, but on a codeshare United/Turkish Air ticket. Delta’s codeshares are with AirFrance and KLM for the most part) and are about $400 more.

  11. Do you have Apple app ? When is the best time to book Flight from PDX to FCO on this November and fly back from DXB (to PDX on November )? Thank you !

    1. Hi Midca, We’ve been working on improvements to our app, but it’s not available at the moment. Your timing couldn’t be better asking about the international fares. We’re about to publish our International Airfare Study the second week in April so we should be able to offer you a better idea of when to buy when that study is released. I’ll send you a message when it’s live.

    1. Hi Lisa, Not sure what you’d consider “reasonable” but the best fares for your months from Little Rock are all in the $1,500-1,600 range. If you’re willing to fly to London instead and get to Manchester by train, it’s not much of a savings (if any). If you’re willing to fly from Little Rock to New York on one ticket, pick up your bags and recheck through to Manchester you can save quite a bit. Little Rock to JFK (New York) tickets for your dates are around $400, and the New York to Manchester portion are around $550-650.

    1. Hi Liz, Right now out of Charleston for your dates it looks like Jet Blue and Royal Air Maroc Airlines have an itinerary for around $1,039 routed through Boston with decent flight times (no matter how you cut it you end up with two stops). In July and August, the fares are easily $200-300 more. Going in shoulder season will definitely save you money, but you’re close enough to summer that I would probably keep a close eye on fares and plan to buy quite soon. Our international When to Buy study is coming out next week. We’ll make sure to send it to you via these comments when it’s published. That will give you a better idea of optimal times to buy.

  12. I enjoyed your article, however, as I was just looking at airline prices from DTW to Albuquerque leaving June 28, returning July 2nd, I found that your fair was higher than any other sites I had checked. Why is that?

    1. Hi Linda, Can you share the airline and a bit more detail about your plans? If I know we’re looking at the same itineraries and flight times, I can look into the price discrepancy. We don’t always have the cheapest fare, but we very often do.

  13. I really appreciate the information in this post. Very user friendly way to present tons of data. We are planning a trip to Beirut this fall and want to know the best times to buy our tickets. I’ll try to remember to check for your International Airfare study.
    Btw it’s great that you answer comments!!! Makes me feel your company is still small enough to be really engaged. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Maureen. When the study is published, I’ll make sure we give you a shout. It should be out next week. And thank you for the kind words – we really do our best to provide helpful feedback. We’re always happy to hear that it’s working for our customers and readers.

  14. Your report is a public service indeed! Eagerly awaiting the int’l travel report. Meantime, since others are asking, I’m looking to travel from Michigan to Norway in mid-July until the end of the month. I could route through NY, Detroit, Chicago, take a flight out of Canada…. Any tips/suggestions on that?

    1. Hi ML. I think the main thing is that I’d buy soon. Since WOW airlines shuttered last week, it could cause a ripple effect in fares across Europe though WOW did not fly into Oslo. You’re going in July which is busy season (and most expensive) for Europe from the states. Our advice is usually to look at fares from home booked all the way through to your final destination (for convenience on baggage checking), but also search from New York (they almost always have the best fares) and then back out the domestic portion to see if that saves money. Just doing a general search mid-July to end of July looks like Lufthansa has a flight for around $530 out of JFK with decent departure and travel times. When I search out of DTW, the flight prices jump to almost $1100 round trip. You can find flights into JFK from DTW for regularly under $200 so that seems like a pretty hefty savings. Just remember if you go that route, you’ll have to pick up your bags in New York and then recheck through to Oslo. Is it worth saving the $300 but having the inconvenience of dealing with your bags in NYC (both directions – so $150 each way). When you break it down like that, it sometimes starts to sound like not that big of a savings. We are penny pinchers over here, so usually don’t mind the extra work, but on the return home it can be grueling. Happy travels!

  15. looking to fly out of NY to Edinburgh UK on 9/9 thru 9/21. Norwegian has low-cost flights out of Stewart (SWF) but NO return trips available in Sept/Oct? What’s with their website?

    Also will fare fluctuate much? Right now hovering around $690 R/T from NY-EDI

    Thanks

    1. Hi Jackie, To be honest that’s a pretty good fare to Edinburgh. The best fare I see is from JFK on Norwegian and it’s even less ($534) for your dates. However, I don’t see anything out of Newburgh for less than 3.5k. I would have been surprised to find a great fare out of Newburgh, frankly, so if you’re seeing one I would snap it up.

  16. Looking to book 4 adults from Philadelphia to Punta Cana 12/14 to 12/20. Should we book now or wait a while the price for American is 3075. Thank you

    1. Hi Mandy, the prices from Philly to Punta Cana take a big jump (because of Christmas STARTING on the 20th). Christmas week prices are close to $1k but I see fares in the $600-800 range for your group. Here’s the thing. On the low end, those flights with the best prices are connecting flights, not nonstop. The nonstop flights are definitely higher. I’m not seeing that high price you’re seeing for American (are you looking at Business Class)? I would book soon if you guys want those nonstops on American and you want to sit together. Those prices will not go down.

  17. I am planning to travel with my kids to the US in Jul-Aug, I am from the Caribbean, when can I get the best airfares deals. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi there, it’s not too early to start shopping now if you’re planning to travel to popular vacation cities. If you’re planning to travel to a spot that is not necessarily popular with summer tourists, you can probably wait a bit. Where are you headed specifically?

  18. I am considering going to Frankfurt Germany. I live near Orlando airport Florida. Do international flights take off from there.

    1. Hi Erika, Orlando is an international airport. Most flights out of Orlando will connect somewhere else (have a stop) but there are some nonstop flights on Lufthansa from Orlando to Frankfurt. Those airline tickets (the nonstops) are almost always priced at a premium because people prefer to fly nonstop. To give you an idea of the price difference – in June there are connecting flights into Frankfurt available for just under $1000. The nonstop flights are $1500+.

    1. Hi Erika, It really depends on the dates you’re planning to travel. I’ve seen fares under $300 round trip and as high as $600, depending on the travel dates.

  19. I’m wanting to go to Easter Island from Santiago near the end of November. I was looking at airline prices about a month ago (March) and looked again today and the price has almost doubled. Are fluctuations like this normal or should I be booking now? When I look at the expected price range to Easter Island the current price is well outside of the estimated maximum. I’m just curious.

    1. Hi Kim, It’s honestly hard to say. That does seem like quite a jump – one thing I always suggest – is to make sure you’ve done an apples to apples comparison. It’s hard for me to say at this point – it’s not unheard of for an expensive flight to go up quite a bit, even in just a month. If your flight starting selling the least expensive seats, it could be that the most expensive seats are what is left at this point. If you share your travel dates with me, perhaps I can be a bit more specific in my feedback.

  20. Thanks for this article. Traveling CLT to MCO in early June and have been stalking fares for quite a while. We only want non-stop and I really want to try to avoid American’s basic economy fare. Lately, that has been the only one that changes. Trying desperately to avoid spending $800 for 2 people, but also don’t want to wait until the last minute.

    1. Hi Barbara, You sound like you’re in a bit of a pickle. You’ve hit all of the hot button items. Non-stops are everyone’s preference. So – the lowest fares on the nonstops will go fast and you can’t expect to get the “discounts” you might see on other itineraries with layovers. Do not wait until the last minute or it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to get stuck with a Basic seat on a less attractive flight. If the nonstops are important to you – I wouldn’t wait. We’re already quite close to travel.

  21. Im looking to fly to San Juan from Chicago with my granddaughter early july and coming back sometime in August. Would it be best to book now or wait?

    1. Hi Mildred, It’s not too early to start searching, especially if you’d prefer to sit together. The best priced seats will sell out first, and airlines generally charge for seat assignments these days. It’s not too early to book.

  22. HI there,
    I am looking for flights from MSP to LAS from Wed Oct. 16th to Sun Oct. 20th. I feel like i should be able to get cheaper than what I am seeing out there. We need a early flight on Wednesday but flexible for the Sun flight. Should i be able to get cheaper than what I am seeing? I am honestly surprised by the rates and I always thought Vegas was a “cheap” flight

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kailey, Here’s the thing. You are looking at flights in the $200 range for those dates. Most other dates this year do have fares in the $122-130 range. My hunch is that there must be a big event or concert going on for your dates, but I can’t see anything online that’s jumping out at me right now. It also might be that the fares will come down as we get closer.

  23. Thank you for this article. I am trying to book a June trip from Charlotte to Orlando and the prices are not changing. We are about 40 days out, so I hope to see a drop soon. Single mom traveling with a child, so not really wanting to do the basic economy, although we are hoping to do carry on only.
    guess I will keep watching a few days more.

    1. Hi Barbara, it’s not likely to see too much of a drop this close to travel. Usually by 21 days out the prices start a climb in the other direction. Our best advice is probably to purchase that economy ticket. Do you have a specific airline you like? Maybe we can help with some better options. If you can share your dates I can do a little digging around for you.

  24. How much most reasonable price R/T from Las Vegas to Manila Philippines on Nov 12- Dec 7. 2019…
    Thank you very much

  25. Hi, looking to book a flight from Ft. Lauderdale(FLL) to John Wayne(SNA) around August 9th. Any good tips? Thank you,Mindy Fishman

    1. Hi Mindy, Take a look at our Summer Flights page and plan to buy your ticket soon. Fares right now in August are pretty reasonable, especially when you compare to flights in July. However, cross country fights in the summer to Orange County tend to fill and we wouldn’t want you to be on the wrong side of that situation. https://www.cheapair.com/blog/summer-flights/

  26. Hi. I have two questions. First, I’m hoping to travel from IAD to either Denver or Colorado Springs (CS is the ultimate destination) towards the end of September for my niece’s birthday. I don’t have exact dates, yet, as we’re waiting for her father’s visitation schedule. According to your article, if I wait until June to book my flight, I’ll be in the Prime Booking Zone, right? I found some good deals last week, but couldn’t book them, and was worried I’d end up paying twice as much.

    Also, I’ve noticed a lot of times traveling out of IAD (and, probably other major airports), non-stop flights are often cheaper than those with layovers. Why is this? I always thought it would be the reverse.

    1. Hi Mimi, I wouldn’t worry too much that you’re going to pay twice the fare if you wait a little longer. I would keep an eye on fares until you know for sure, but you’re traveling at quite a good time to find deals – summer vacation folks have finished and the ski season hasn’t hit yet. I’m not sure why you’re seeing lower prices for nonstops. You are quite right – nonstops are the most popular flights, which tends to make them more expensive. It is possible that buying this far out is having an effect – not so many people have started buying yet.

  27. We often fly into Denver, but flights from there to Gunnison are really high priced. Any pointers?

    1. Hi Judy, Yeah that’s a tough call. The relative proximity to Denver makes flights to Gunnison quite expensive. Really, the only two options are to keep travel dates flexible as all get out so when a lower priced ticket comes available you can hop on it, or resign yourself to paying a premium.

  28. Great info, thanks! Advice please – looking for best deals from Washington DC area including surrounding airports to Seattle. Flying week after 4th of July.

  29. Hello. We are looking for good rate for tickets from GUA to Pittsburgh, leaving Aug 10th and returning Sept 24th 2019. We are 2 adults and 2 kids (6 and 3 years old) we need at least 3 hours layover on the way to Pittsburgh (1 stop). For the return 1 and a half hours layover and up is good (1 stop). Main cabin seats since we need to choose the seats in advance because we are traveling with kids. Can you let us know how much the tickets are and when could be a good time to buy them? Thanks

    1. It looks like there are some American flights for your days with your connection requirements for $928 round trip. Since you do have specific requirements for your connections, the best time to buy is probably sooner than later. You’re also traveling with kids – and it may be tricky to find seats together for your family if you wait to buy.

  30. My daughter and I are flying out of Las Vegas on Oct 18 to Kauai. When is the best time to get tickets. We want to fly out early morning. Do those flights get filled quickly. Thanks for the info.

  31. Hola. Waiting to book airfare for open jaw 2ppl . STL-LHR on 10/3/19 then FLR-STL on 10/19/19. Found $976 with two airlines. Questions? 1) Book now or wait say 30 days for sale? 2) How do I book with multiple airlines?

    1. Hi Ricardo, A couple of things to consider. Based on your dates of travel, you are not going to have to deal with peak season fares so it might make sense to wait a bit to see if the fares do go down a bit. Holding off until July to see if there are sale fares would not be our best recommendation – while possible that a sale could pop up, it’s much more important to look at the existing fares and see how they are trending. If a fare starts to climb 9even a few dollars), that generally means the lower seats are selling out and that the available fares will conitnue to go up. If you are planning to book with multiple airlines, the booking process works the same way. The only issue you will have when booking different airlines, is that you’ll not be able to check bags through to your final destination. There’s no real way around this. The only way you can guarantee checking bags all the way through is if you book your entire journey as one ticket.

  32. Thank you for your hard work and great article. I am looking to reserve round trip ticket for 2 travelers from PDX to BKK in mid September. Based on your analysis I should make a purchase as soon as possible.

  33. My wife and I are the type where we want a deal but we like knowing we have our tickets so it is a bit conflicting. We are planning a round trip on Dec 7th returning on the 14th from MCI to MCO. We would like to book the tickets now but according to this article it looks like we should wait but then again….we like that ticket in hand. What would be a good time to book and if we booked now compared to then how much could we save? Thanks for your advice and this site. I just came upon it today and WOW, impressed!

    1. Hi CJ, The argument for waiting is mainly for folks who want the best deal (or something close to it). Those best deals tend to congregate in that “prime booking window.” Now, we also like to tell people that if you have specific itineraries you like or want to make sure you get seats in a specific section of the plane, buying early is a must. You will pay 20% or so more if you buy early on average, but you have to weigh what is more important to you – peace of mind or that bargain price! Also, there’s no real way to tell if you wait that the ticket that’s $300 today might be $240 in 3 months. It’s all a bit of a gamble. We deal in averages for these studies – you should keep a close eye on the route you want to take to see what the fluctuations look like. If the prices are flat? It might be in your best interest to wait a while – any movement on price in either direction means it is time to start paying attention – other people watching the flight are buying (price going up) or the airline is trying to stimulate sales (price going down).

  34. Hey so I am looking to fly out of Chicago to salt lake city Utah around January 5 to the 10th. Flexible dates want to stay for preferably 5 night and want to snowboard 4 days during the week( mon-friday) there. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Omar, The good news is that flying anytime after January 3 protects you from “holiday” travel and, therefore, holiday fares. The nonstop flights on United and American for your dates are holding steady at $337 round trip. I would hop on those asap. They won’t stay this affordable.

  35. Thank you for this most informative and comprehensive article. My Family and I are planning a trip around the end of the week of August of next year and this article was very helpful, and promising, for getting a good price.

      1. Hello, Looking for tickets from Boston,MA to Fort Lauderdale, FL for Sunday Feb 16,2020 to Sunday Feb 23,2020. We are planning our wedding out there and was wondering when the best time would be to tell our guests to buy tickets, they are currently expensive. Also, would it be better to fly in and out Monday to Monday in stead of Sundays?
        Thank you!

        1. Hi Ericka,

          First off, congratulations! 🙂 When to buy flights for a wedding can vary depending on a lot of factors. Obviously you can’t be too flexible with your dates, so you’re kind of set with a couple options. Also, depending on how large of a group is flying, airlines have contracted group rates (if all travelers are traveling from or to the same city) for groups of 9 or more. This can be helpful because airlines sell seats in “blocks” at a fare class and price and those seats can fill up when searching for 2 or 3 at a time. The group rate allows all travelers to receive the same rate. This is usually done directly with the airline… so we’d try American and United. Otherwise, if there a small group traveling, then you still have plenty of time to continue to monitor the fares more. Just keep in mind that the earlier you book the better flight options you have to choose from as well as the better seats selections too. Either way, we’d recommend to have flights booked by the New Year.

          Keep in mind, when you purchase flights with CheapAir if the price for the same itinerary goes down any time before your trip, we’ll pay you back the difference in the form of a travel voucher for up to $100 per ticket! Please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  36. Hi! Quick question. I wanted to fly from SFO to FCO around Dec 16, 2019 with TAP Portugal. Around a week ago, fares for 2 checked bags were $315 yet today they’re $570! Do you think they increased the price drastically just for this weekend and that it’ll go back down? Or should I just think about buying now?

    1. Hi Nikki, It’s really hard to say the reason for the price bump without seeing the specific searches you were doing. SFO to Rome (FCO) for $315 sounds amazing – but I’ll be honest. That’s a stellar one-way deal (I assume its a one-way fare). I assume that people shopping right now for Christmas are finding the fares Christmas week so high that they’re flying earlier in the month. I see fares in early December for under $300, but I think the lowest fares for December 16 are not going to be returning this year.

  37. I’m flying to Florida (West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale) from Albany NY for Christmas. Approximately 2-3 days before Christmas. I’ll be taking a cruise starting 12/30 for 5 days (I think). I’d leave 2 days after the cruise arrives back in Miami. Your website says about 80 days in advance, and on Tuesdays, is the best time to buy. When should I buy for Christmas time?

  38. What are the dates of the seasons? Do the seasons literally begin on the solstices and equinoxes, or are they groups of months? Specifically, is December 6-14 in the late fall or early winter?

    Thank you.

    1. We work with the solstices and equinoxes for the Northern hemisphere to set our seasons.December 6-14 is late fall.

  39. Hi. my family is planning a vacation to the Philippines from NE with layover to Inchon, korea in January 2020. My wife is having difficult time getting the flight in DELTA. It will say this price but upon check out turns out to be a different but a high price ticket. Any suggestions? thanks!

  40. Hello! I travel to PR every year on Dec 30 or 31st from Hartford. I’ve always been able to find cheap flights for these dates and right now they are ridiculously priced at $500+ ONE WAY! Is there a tax or some sort of fee that’s been added to these flights or do I have to wait for the proper window? The options are so atypical this year.

    1. Hi Migdalia, I am seeing flights on December 30 and 31 from around $650-$750 round trip from Hartford so I am not sure what the issue might be for the dates/times you’re looking at. Are you looking at nonstop flights? What is the return date you are considering? These are questions that might help us narrow down the jump in price.

  41. Hello. I am looking for good prices from Columbus Ohio to St. Croix. I have made 7 trips to the island and in the past I have bought tickets ranging from $487.00 to $700.00 but now it seems like every airline has raised their rates to the max. I have been paying close attention to how many days out I should buy my tickets. 4 months, 90 days, 62 days. It is so confusing. Any suggestions?

  42. Hi there! Love the article and that you’re responding to people!
    I’m flying CLT to New York City twice in November. The first is Nov. 15-17 and the second time is for Thanksgiving (Nov. 27-Dec. 1). Flights were about $150 a few weeks ago for the earlier date and now I’m having a hard time finding something under $230. Ideally I’d like to fly to LGA. Do you think fares will go back down?
    And any tips for Thanksgiving? I know I should buy ASAP but maybe fares will go down for then as well…?

    1. Hi Kimberly, Thanks for the kind words about our study. I wouldn’t wait on either flight. Thanksgiving will definitely get more expensive the closer we get to the dates, and while early November is a good value time to go to New York, the fact that you’ve mentioned that the flight prices have already gone up is not a good sign that they will go back down. Generally speaking, incremental increases in fare price are an indicator that people are willing to pay more. Also, the lowest priced tickets on a plane do sell out first, which leaves more premium seats (that are not likely to go on sale). Buy as soon as you can!

  43. Hi, Im flying roundtrip from Dfw to Lax from Oct 21st to the 30th.I am looking for an early evening to a late night flight, however I saw flights around $187 a couple of months ago, and now Im looking at about $222. Is there any possibility fares will go back down?

    1. Hi Jeffrey. Not likely. The closer we get, if you see incremental increases that generally means the flights are selling the lower-priced tickets. Not to say that they could go back down, but it’s not typical, especially if you are shopping particular flights.

  44. I am planning on flying FSD to London Dec 21st with return to FSD from BRUSSELS Jan 2nd. Any insights you might provide regarding ticket purchase would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Robert, it all depends on what is most important to you. You’re traveling at a very busy and expensive time. I see an itinerary that can get you everything you need for about $1200. If that’s too much money, there might be a way to cobble together flights to New York from Sioux Falls that could a better value for you. But in your case, with multiple cities involved, this is actually a great price.

  45. Travelling Toronto to Dublin May 2020
    Returning Brussels to Toronto June 2020 (1 month trip)
    Can leave from Buffalo, NY also
    Any ideas/ thoughts appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Carol, Have a look at our International Airfare Study: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/when-should-i-buy-my-international-airline-ticket/. You’re likely to get better prices out of Toronto than Buffalo, and we recommend buying about 6-7 months out for the best fares for a round trip ticket from the U.S. Now you are talking about departure from Toronto on a multi-city ticket, but Toronto tends to have comparable fares from NYC. I would start shopping a bit earlier but watch for trends. Because you don’t need round trip fares, you might be able to snatch up quite good single tickets (or rather a bit of a Frankenstein ticket).

  46. Hi,

    We are planning on going from SFO, to Jamaica for Christmas (leaving later on the 24th is an option), through the 30th (or 31st). The flights are pretty expensive right now. Do you know if they will go down at all, or do we need to buy ASAP? Thanks!

  47. Traveling from CLT to Las Vegas October 8. Looking for a great deal, but hubby cannot take a Frontier or Spirit flight (he’s 6’7″ and the seats are not friendly I’ve heard). Whats best time to purchase? According to your site, 100 days is the sweet spot, but wondering if any price drops to Vegas I should be aware of.

    1. Lucky for you, Vegas is always on the cheapish side – even last minute you can often catch deals to Sin City. 2 weeks to 100 days out is going to be the sweet spot for your search.

  48. leaving from sacramento ca to san juan pr dec 1 2019 return dec 15 2019 please when would be the best time to book flights thank you.

    1. Hi Ozzie. You’re likely going to get the best prices around 2 weeks to 3 months out, but that is to get the cheapest tickets. As we get closer to those dates, you get more and more limited choices. You probably wouldn’t want to save $200 if it meant you’d have 3 plane changes or a 12 hour layover (for instance). It’s definitely time to start a serious search right now. If you see a good price, hop on it!

  49. Looking to take my family (4 possibly 5) to Orlando from Detroit from Feb 15 to 29. Could fly to Tampa if cheaper have to rent a car anyway. When should I start looking?

    1. Hi Jon, It’s really not too early to start your search now. Orlando is one of those “evergreen” destinations, without a defined low season. You’re not going smack in the middle of “spring break” traffic (March-April), but it’s probably not a bad idea to get that search started now, especially since you’re looking for the best fare and as a family, you probably all want to be sitting together. I’m seeing flights for your dates on United to Orlando for around $250 and I’m not sure you’re going to do much better than that. And it looks like Tampa is slightly more expensive (at least right now).

  50. Hello! I’m in a bit of a pickle. Flying from Rdu to psp Nov. 13-17. Friends booked tics 30 min before me and paid $457 on July 2nd. My flight was $522. So I decided to wait. Well today it’s $980! I can’t even believe it! 7 weeks out still and double digits in seating on all of the flights. So mad at myself over $65. Do you think the price will drop at all? What’s your advice? Wait it out a couple more weeks or find another flight?? I’m soooo sad about it! Thank you for any input!

    1. Hi Jessica, Ouch! Yes, this can often be the price for waiting these days. When you see incremental (small) increases in fares that generally means people are willing to buy at the higher price points. And Palm Springs is quite popular these days. I might look for another flight – this one doesn’t look like it’s going to go back down. However, no one knows. If sales stall, the airline might lower the prices on the remaining seats. If I were in your shoes, I’d shop around for another flight.

  51. I am looking for a one way flight from cun to lax on jan 20 2020. Prefer departure time after 4:00pm. Current price for this round is around $400 or more. What is typical price for this round @ the same time frame ?Should i wait a liitle bit with hope that the price will drop or should i book it now?
    Thank you

      1. Hi Ann, I see flights for under $200 on your dates one way. The round trip fare is $400 – but if you only need one way, that price is almost half on American. Spirit and Frontier have flights for a few dollars more.

    1. Hi Ann, It does look like there are flights available for 1/2 this fare ($400). Most of the flights after 4pm, nonstop are right around $200. That is about as good as you can hope to get from CUN to LAX. Buy soon!

  52. We are going to San Francisco and then driving to LA to visit family. I wanted to purchase tickets a month ago and my husband said wait prices will go down. We will be flying in to San Fran, than out of Lax, so it is costing a lot more to fly out of two different airports. Should we keep waiting or buy now? I have been checking the three Airports near me, Burlington Vermont, Albany NY, and Syracuse NY. I have also considered driving back to San Francisco to save money but it is 7 hr drive.

    1. When is your trip, Tracie? I f you are traveling for Thanksgiving or over the holidays in December it is definitely not a good idea to wait. We’re based in LA and you’re right, Making that drive at the end of your trip back to SF won’t be fun. You could also consider flying into Oakland (across the bay from San Francisco) and out of Burbank, Ontario, Orange County or Long Beach in LA. It’s probably worth checking to see what the flights are like. If I had dates I could check for you.

  53. Planning a spring break trip from Flint, MI to Orlando. 3/28-4/2. Rates are currently around $480- $570 (More desirable flight). They seem to keep going up. Should I continue to wait? Or book now?

    1. The key portion of your comment is “more desirable flight.” the best itineraries (shortest layovers and nonstops) rarely go down. Less attractive flights might. It’s always a bit of a roll of the dice, especially since you are looking at spring break destinations. It’s almost always better to buy early for spring break.

  54. Hi I am planning to fly to JFK on the 20th December. For my son and I. I got a good price on my return ticket, so all I need now is my departure ticket currently the price is $329.60 per person. Do you think the price will drop?

    1. Hi Rella, You are traveling during arguably the most expensive week of the holiday season. Don’t wait. Prices will continue to climb.

    1. Hi Joy, Thank you for the compliment! San Juan’s prices are still relatively low compared to typical rates, but high season in PR is December to April. Avoid high season to get the best deals. If you have a general idea of when you might be traveling, I can look at more specific dates.

        1. Hi Joy, It’s probably not too early to be searching. Puerto Rico is sometimes a spring break destination, so would probably start your search as soon as possible.

  55. Hello ~ Thank you for the great tips. I copied them to a calendar reminder to help me remember when I check prices weekly.
    We are planning a trip, PDX to DTW, August 25th 2020. Any advise?

  56. I’m equidistant to St. Louis and Cincinnati (3:20), less than 2 hours to Louisville and 2 hours to Nashville. I keep getting Air Canada out of Cincinnati is my best option to Toronto Pearson (YYZ) for Dec. 30-Jan. 2 … should I wait longer?

    1. Hi John, It does look like this is your best bet, both for convenience of flights (nonstops) and cost $360. I checked to make sure Southwest isn’t an option (it is not), so for the dates (over New Years) you should probably buy soon. Flights for these dates won’t go down, and might actually go up!

  57. I’ll be flying to Miami from Phoenix, March 6th through the 14th or 15th, not decided yet, our cruise docks at 8am on the 14th, so anytime after that. Recommendations for when to book? A week ago I saw them for around $600 for the times I wanted and not it’s shot you to $800+. Tips?

    1. Hi Alexa, The problem is that you are traveling during prime “spring break” dates and its also a major cruise port. It’s possible the fares will dip again because $200 is quite a jump, but if it does go back down we’d recommend buying soon. Certainly waiting until the new year is a little too late. College students are shopping for spring break now.

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