Tips from the experts: How CheapAir Travel Advisors search for airfares

Here at CheapAir we often say that searching for airfares is like playing the stock market—airfares may go up one day and down the next with no obvious rhyme or reason. We’ve told you before about how airfare pricing is a science of its own. Now we want to give you some practical advice and share with you the approach and strategies that CheapAir travel advisors use when planning their own getaways.

How CheapAir Travel Advisors search for airfares

Research early and often

It’s generally a good idea to start checking airfares a few months or more prior to your desired departure date. This way, you get a feel for the market and what the typical fares are. This is especially important if you don’t travel frequently. Getting a pulse on the market will arm you with the awareness you need to decide whether a fare is high, low or average. If fares drop, you’ll know it’s a good price and can act fast.

Plan around the cheapest days to fly

If you can, try to fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the best fares for domestic travel. For international, shoot for Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. These are the least popular days to travel and you’ll likely find better fares for those days. Conversely, Fridays and Sundays are usually the most popular and, therefore, more expensive, so you’ll frequently save money if you can be flexible enough to avoid those days.

Don’t book too early or too late

Here are two popular myths about the best time to buy an airline ticket: (1) The further in advance you book, the better and (2), if you wait until the last minute there will be incredibly cheap, unsold seats. Both scenarios are untrue nearly every time. The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule, but there are some general trends to be aware of.  Most airlines open flights for booking about 11 months in advance and at that time, fares tend to be high. Then, once you get within about five months of a flight you will start to see sporadic seat sales where the prices drop for a short period of time. This pattern will continue for a few months. On average, six weeks in advance is the least expensive time to buy a domestic flight – but that varies a lot depending on where you’re going and when you’re traveling. With popular cities on popular travel days, you are usually best to book even earlier. That’s especially true for holiday travel.  So check often and when you do see a good deal or a big fare drop, don’t wait too long to pull the trigger. The best deals don’t normally stay around for too long. Finally, whatever you do, always try to book at least 21 days in advance. Within 21 days of departure, fares usually start to climb quite a bit.

Try to be flexible

The more flexible you are about everything, the better—days you can travel, which airline, which airports, etc. Figure out all the combinations of dates and airports you’d be willing to do, and check each one individually to make sure you are seeing the most options. Being flexible will provide you with the most choices and therefore you’ll have the better deals to choose from. This includes being willing to fly one airline going and another coming back, since sometimes the airline with the least expensive fare or best schedule in one direction does not have a great option for the other.

We’re here to help

I hope these trends and best practices help you to navigate the complexities of booking a good airfare. Remember, CheapAir Travel Advisors are always here to help. All of CheapAir’s Travel Advisors are U.S.-based and are available via phone (1-800-243-2724) or email ( So if you have any questions, let us know.

Safe travels!

Search Cheap Flights


  1. Before my retirement, I did a fair amount of air travel. I soon learned that there is very little rhyme or reason to air line fares. I talked to a representive from one of the larger northeast travel agencys and she concluded the same thing.

    We travel frequently to New York city and have found it is better to fly out of Charlotte than Columbia, SC, where we live. Yes we finally got tickets with pretty good flights, but not with very god prices. Thanks for you concern.

    Mike Farrar

  2. Thank you for your service, I do travel often to Belize and do all of the above mentioned. I will be traveling during the the end of February so please send me cheaper flights that you encounter through these last few months.

  3. Just received this very useful and helpful information. I wish I had it before I booked my sons trip to Texas last week. However, it will certainly come in handy when planning furture trips.

    Thanks CheapAir

  4. Planning to visit friends in The Hague, March 6th-16th; booking tickets approximately 4-6 weeks prior to departure. We are flexible on departure times and stops. Is it any cheaper to fly into Paris than Amsterdam, then taking the train to The Hague?

    1. Hi Ed,

      Happy to help, but without knowing where you’re departing from, I can’t really say. Please reply with your departing city and I’d be happy to check that for you.

  5. Thanks for the tips they are really helpful. I am looking for flights to Houston. I have not find them yet but I am still looking. Right now the prices are way too high. If I do not find cheaper tickets I will drive. Last year I found tickets at $ 221

    1. Hi Olga,

      I’d be happy to check flights for you. Where are you departing from? What are the dates you’re looking for?

  6. Why one way flights or round trip flights are cheaper from New York to Las Vegas but it is more expensive from Las Vegas to New York.

    1. Hi Edward,

      We know airfares can be confusing sometimes. To help we’ve written a blog post about airfares to help explain how they work. You can learn more about this here: Airfares 101.

  7. Hi Thank you for the tips. I’m planning to depart Singapore To Cleveland Ohio for a K1 Fiancee Visa On December 14, 2013. (One-way) Some people told me that I can have a discount for a first time immigrant? I would appreciate if you can send me the cheapest air fair. Thank you very much and GOD bless…

    1. Hi Marisol,

      Flights from Singapore to Cleveland for your dates are starting at $917 per person, not including any baggage fees that may apply. To book this, you will need to call us at 1-800-243-2724 to speak with a travel advisor.

  8. Thanks for your “flight booking advice”!

    My wife and I fly to Panama City, Panama (PTY) and have found that “no frills” Spirit Airlines has the lowest fares. If I fly out of Pensacola, the price is around $640 & have to connect in Atlanta arriving in Panama City at 9:15 PM—-I have been driving to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) for Spirits round trip flight at $183 (with one checked bag). Even with the cost of gasoline for the trip from Pensacola to Ft. Lauderdale I’m still saving at least $330 and when my wife flys with me the savings go up to $660. Is there any other alternatives for me to get to PTY from PNS at a comparable rate??

  9. Great article. The problem I find often is the rate is good, but the times are ghastly with long layovers and such. Any ideas on that? Thank you
    I might just contact you guys for further travel needs via email or phone

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Unfortunately the cheapest flights are also the lease desirable sometimes. Definitely contact us if you need any assistance with finding flights, we’re here to help you if you need it.

  10. Thanks for the tips….I’m planning a trip to Bogota Col from the 17 of Dic till Jan 6…I can really use your help getting the best deal possible….I really appreciated….oh, flying out of Fll or Mia…thanks

    1. Hi Alberto,

      For your trip, you’ll want to purchase as soon as possible. Fares for those dates are currently starting at $706 per person, not including any baggage fees that may apply. To book, you can use this link: Please let us know if you need any assistance.

  11. Thanks for the tips nice to know since me and my husband and 2 kids were planning to go on vacation to the philippines next year in july….thank you:)

  12. Thank you!!! Is there a particular time of day to book flights? I also heard booking flights on Thursdays is good. Is that true? We have been searching for flights to LA from Detroit for about 3 months and they haven’t changed much 🙁

    1. Hi Dana,

      Great questions. Generally, it is better to search for flights earlier in the day than later since as the day goes on more seats are being bought which in turn can increase the price. Tuesday’s are a good day to buy since airlines tend to release sale fares on those days, but sales can get released at anytime so there’s no hard rule on the best day to buy. For your flights to LA, when are you planning on traveling? (You may be searching too far in advance.) Either way, I’d suggest to continue to monitor the fares more since there’s a good chance they will drop if you’re not seeing any change in price. Please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  13. Nice to know you’re there for us. We’re really in need of help. We’re travelling from EWR to MCO R/T, 6/1 to 7, then EWR, HNL, KOA and return. 7/28 to HNL, 8/4 to KOA and 8/8 for the return. Our party could be 2 to 6 if price is right. Also, if it is cheaper to break our trip to Hawaii to get a better fare, please advise. Your help for the best is badly needed. We’ll wait for your signal.

    1. Hi Nelson,

      For your first trip from Newark to Orlando, you can view flight schedules and book here: (Please keep in mind that our website will search any neighboring airports to find the cheapest fares, so if you must travel from Newark, please be careful when selecting flights. For your flights to Hawaii, breaking it up wouldn’t be cheaper. I’d suggest to call us at 1-800-243-2724 so one of our Travel Advisors can research and assist you with this multi-leg trip. Since there will be a lot of information, it would be best to work with one of our Travel Advisors if you can. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance with finding flights.

  14. Looking for a great price for 6 people to fly out of Boston to Phoenix the end of April. When is the best time to buy our tickets? Been watching the flights and prices and still feel they are a little high in price. Thank you

    1. Hi Irene,

      For flights at the end of April, you should be purchasing now or as soon as you can. We’re within 8 weeks prior to the end of April, so don’t put the purchase off too much longer. Since there are 6 of you traveling, I’d suggest trying to search for flights in smaller groups, like 2 or 3. Reason being is that the airlines block fares into classes of service and only will have a limited number of seats available at the cheapest rates. So if you search for 6, you’ll see pricing for 6 seats at the same class of service, but if you search for 2 or 3, you are more likely to find a cheaper rate. With all that said, please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  15. We are planning to go to Johannesburg South Africa around July 24 until August 20th.We can fly out of Fargo ND or Minneapolis MN.. Some of the flights we’ve checked leave Fargo and go to Mpls. with 30 minutes layover..This is not enough time.We would miss our connections before we even get started….Our tour begins on July 27th any better ideas or days for us to go…thanks much….

    1. Hi Marge,

      In checking the fares, it looks like flights departing from Minneapolis are only a little cheaper than departing from Fargo. Flights from Fargo will connect either through Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, or Dallas, depending on the airline. To view flight schedules and book, you can use this link: Please let us know if you need any assistance with finding flights.

  16. Looking for a great price for 3 people to fly out of Denver to Narita, Japan at the end of March 2015 -one way. We are thinking of a direct flight. When is the best time to buy our tickets? I’d appreciate your help!

    1. Hi Mina,

      For your flights in March 2015, you still have plenty of time to continue to monitor the fares more. It is recommended to book at minimum 130 days prior to your departure in March, so that would mean book by December/January. I’d advise to periodically check the fares to get a sense of the pricing and be prepared to buy if you find a flight you like at a price you like. To view flight schedules and book, you can use this link: Please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  17. Thank you for all great articles posted!

    A quick question on when the best time would be to book a half month round trip from SLC to PEK in mid-Dec., 2014. Flexible departure and return.

    By the way, do you have any historical data on hand to say what the lower price range was to get a bit sense if the current price (~$1100/person) is good or not?

    Do we better wait for a while?

    1. Hi Helen,

      For your flights to Beijing in mid-December, it would be best to book sooner than later. We’ve found that when traveling internationally to Asia, it is best to book at least 130 days prior to your departure. Since you’ll be traveling around the peak holiday season, the exact dates you’ll be traveling on can greatly impact the pricing. For example, if you can depart from Dec 10 – 29, fares are starting at around $940 and up. I’d suggest aiming for a fares around $1000 or there about, but keep in mind that the more specific you are with your dates and flight times can drive up the costs. To view flight schedules and book, you can use this link: Please let us know if you need any help with finding flights.

  18. I am looking to travel to Hawaii (OGG) around the second or third week of January 2015. Currently flying out of CID. When is generally the best time to start looking for flights?

    1. Hi Joe,

      For your flights in mid January, I’d recommend checking flights now to get a sense of what’s available and the pricing. Depending on how flexible you are with your dates of travel can really impact the bottom line. For example, if you can depart and return mid-week versus on the weekend, you can save some money. To view flight schedules and book, you can use this link: Booking earlier than later would be a good move since the winter months are a peak time for the island of Maui. Keep in mind, when you book on, 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.

  19. I worked several years for a major airline reservation sales/services department. Everything that you mention
    is true. I guess the best advice
    is, book early and be flexible if
    at all possible….

  20. two people flying for Air Force Graduation from MSP to DFW then renting a car to drive to San Antonio. Dates we must be there from 11/26/14 – 11/28/14. because of the driving to/from Dallas we need the Tuesday and Saturday flights. ANytime on Tuesday – and we could go Monday, Sunday or Saturday prior, and then later on Saturday (11/29) or Sunday would work. Any idea when these will be under 250 per person?

    1. Hi Julie! It looks like you do have some flexibility which is very good. Unfortunately, we can’t predict when the airlines might lower rates. It’s Thanksgiving week, so at this point in the year, fares tend to rise rather than decrease (you can see where Thanksgiving flights are today on average here: Having said that, this has been somewhat of a bumpy season for travel and it’s not completely unrealistic to think rates could dip again. We have a price drop payback feature that does protect your fare for up to $100 per ticket should the prices go down after you purchase. If I were you, I’d start to think seriously about purchasing now, when rates are around the $300 mark. We’re within $50 of where you want to be already – then if the prices decrease, you’ll be protected. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Lori,

      Fares in general are higher than they have been in the past. While January might not seem like a peak time for Orlando, the dates you’re looking at might be the reason the fares are higher than what you’re used to seeing. For example, if you’re looking to depart earlier in January, fares will be higher closest to the New Years holiday. Other factors could be you’re choosing peak days. Ultimately, being flexible with your dates and flight times is the best way to save on flights. If you could provide us with your departure city and the dates you’re interested in, we’d be happy to assist you in finding the cheapest flights. 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.

    2. If you want cheap prices in Florida…come about July 6 through August 20. It will be sizzling HOT and prices come down on hotels, etc.
      People come to Florida in winter, as they always have to escape freezing weather. Some time ago when I was at a hotel at Sanibel Islands I asked the same question why hotel rooms are $25.?? Cheap.
      Reception looked at me and said that same room costs $125. in winter.

    1. Hi there. Thanks for the question. There are a number of factors that play into when to buy in any market. You should check out our blog post on this issue here – The post will explain that 54 days is the average best time to purchase a domestic airline ticket. Canadian flights are about the same. Using that yardstick, it is a bit early now to be shopping, but not too early to start monitoring fares.Closely monitoring fare trends for a while is always the best way to gauge when to buy. Your best bet is still going to be for the best alerts. If you’re thinking about using CheapAir you should know that we have a great feature that protects you if the fee should drop post purchase. Our Price Drop Payback feature will allow you to recoup up to $100 per ticket in the form of a credit for future travel should your airfare drop. Please let us know if there are any other questions we can help you with today.

    1. Hi Jeremiah. It all depends on a number of factors. You mentioned flying your family – are you bringing your partner and a baby? Two school age kids? The in-laws too? The number of tickets will impact when you should buy as the airlines keep limited numbers of the best fares. You might be able to get two tickets at the best price, but not 5. And if you’re looking for 5, the airlines will only price out the fare at the higher rate. Second, when exactly are you going? You should read through our post on when to book,, with the understanding that right around 4 months out is usually the sweet spot to find the best fares for flights to Asia. Using that yardstick, I’d probably start shopping around right now and then plan to book tickets when you’re about 4 months out. If you’re already there, it’s probably a good time to book. Closely monitoring fare trends for a while is always the best way to gauge when to buy. Your best bet is still going to be for the best alerts. If you’re thinking about using CheapAir you should know that we have a great feature that protects you if the fee should drop post purchase. Our Price Drop Payback feature will allow you to recoup up to $100 per ticket in the form of a credit for future travel should your airfare drop. Please let us know if there are any other questions we can help you with today. Sounds like a great trip!

    1. Hi Prasanta,

      When are you looking to depart? Where in India are you heading? Some destinations are more popular than others and therefore have more flight options to choose from. Otherwise, if it’s a city with less flight options, then booking early is a good idea. If you’re set on your dates, then I would encourage you to book early. Otherwise, if you are flexible with your dates, then you can wait it out longer… but generally you’ll want to book at least 8 weeks prior to your departure.

  21. I already made the reservation to fly may 1 and now am relieved that i did get my reservation without any changes and now i am working on car rent and it is seeming to be hard to find as they do not give much choice of the cars and the price is a little higher than i expect but i am still working on it.. so good luck to me to find a rental car for only 3 days with the day to drop off and hope to find a reasonable rent car value.. thanks DGE

  22. I’m flying from Houston Intercontinental to Seattle WA for a cruise – I need to depart Hou on June 27th and return on July 6th 2015. I have found there are not very many flights and the times I arrive are limited…. When are flights usually added?? Or is what I am seeing not likely going to be my only options???


    1. Hi Lonnie,

      What you’re seeing are the options. Based on your dates and the fact that you’re traveling for a cruise and the dates are not flexible, I’d encourage you to book now or as soon as you can. To view flight schedules and book, you can use this link: Shop in confidence 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.

  23. Thank you so much for you being helpful. I do appreciate your effort. I usually spend a lot of time searching for the best price everyday, two months earlier. There is no stable rule to follow. You might be lucky to find an offer for only two hours and then vanishes. Booking earlier is better.

  24. I am planning a trip from San Juan to Atlanta, Georgia. I have no preference of when to travel. What I wish to know is when is the right season or month to find the best fares.

    1. Hi Ada,

      There is no seasonality for Atlanta, Georgia but you’ll definitely want to avoid any holidays like July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as those tend to spike up the costs. Since you’re flexible with your dates, I’d suggest trying our Flexible date search using this link: You’ll see a list of the cheapest fares for your route and upon clicking on the price, you’ll be shown a calendar of dates where the cheapest flights are found. Hope that helps!

  25. I am traveling to Milan in September (around the 1st). I live in southern VT so I can fly from Hartford BDL or Burlington, VT BTV. There is also Boston Logan, Manchester, NH and NY. Because I am planning an 8 week stay, the Burlington airport would be best as I have relatives where I could park. I am doing this alone for the first time in my life so I am quite excited that I can do “whatever” I wish and I may as well make this a experience to remember. Many flights have layovers. If the layover is long enough and the country is safe enough, I was thinking that I could actually hop a taxi or even a short tour and see something. A two hour layover is much too short, so I don’t mind a long one. This might even help reduce the price with the length being what some might say ridiculous! Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Ramona, That sounds like a fantastic idea. Some airlines even have incentives for doing a stopover (staying overnight). There are a few in Asia that offer stopovers, but in Europe the most obvious airline is IcelandAir, because their stopover program (if you overnight in Reykjavik) is free for up to 7 days! You can read about it here: You’re going to get the best prices to anywhere in Europe from New York, so our advice would be to purchase a ticket (September 1st to NYC is close to $150 right now) and then plan your trip accordingly. I found an itinerary for about $1200 using IcelandAir. There are also low cost airlines servicing Europe and Milan is a very easy spot to use as a home base. Since you are going for 8 weeks, you could even wait until you get there to see what destinations have the best prices on Ryanair and Easyjet and then just plan a little mini trip for under $100 RT.

      1. Thanks so much for your suggestions. This trip is getting more and more exciting with all the possibilities!

  26. My FIRST grandchild is due to be born in the first week of September. I really want to be there for my daughter and the arrival of the baby. Is there any way possible to buy “open” tickets? The posted suggestions are great for future visits though!

    1. Hi Kathy,

      “Open ended” airline tickets are not very common. You would have to check your route to see which airlines offer flights and then contact the airlines directly to see if they offer an open ended airfare. There’s no guarantee they will though. If they do offer them, they can be expensive. I’d also recommend comparing the pricing of separate one-way flights, if you’re uncertain when you’d return. Of course all this depends on where you’re traveling to as some international destinations have restrictions on how long you can visit.

  27. Hello,

    Flying from Montreal to Marrakesh is way to expensive, so we decided to take the Paris route (Leaving July 30th and returning August 16) From which airport in Paris would it be the cheapest to fly to Morocco, that is Marrakesh.
    Thank you, Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      The cheapest airport can really depend on your exact dates. Paris Orly appears to have lots of flights, so that may be your best options when it comes to flight times available.

    1. Where are you booking a flight from? Phoenix in November is already in golf/high season for leisure travel, so it’s not unreasonable for you to be shopping and researching carefully right now.

  28. I want to go to Punta Cana in July or August 2016. Don’t know which time would be more affordable and when should I book.

    1. Hi Martha, we recommend booking trips to the Caribbean about 144 days out from travel, on average. Using that guideline you could comfortably wait until around February or March and still find a good fare. It wouldn’t hurt to start tracking fares now, as getting an idea of fare fluctuations is always a good plan. Other considerations that might mean you should start looking sooner would be the number of travelers (if you have a larger group and you’re all planning to fly together, for example), or if you have very specific requirements of the flights. Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  29. Thanks so much for telling me all these things, I really appreciate it all. I have my air plane tickets now & the next time I will take the advice.

  30. Thank you for your help. I am tryi,g to find a deal with air and hotel from Boston to the Florida Keys leavi,g on a Saturday and co.i,g back on a Tuesday anytime in April. Can you help. Thanks

  31. We are hoping to fly to Guam sometime in the next 10 months. Do you have any tips being there are few flights going into Guam.
    We are coming from the midwest.

    1. Hi Dale, the main tip when flying to places with few flights is to book on the earlier side because the lack of inventory means flights will fill early and the demand will keep the prices trending higher the closer we get to the travel dates. You could also plan to book on Tuesday or Wednesday instead of the weekend if that is an option. This tactic can save you money when there are weekend flights to a destination, because these flights are usually more popular.

      1. We bought air plane tickets in few airlines and prices were coming close! But from month of Dec. 2015, I am looking for a fare from last 2.5 months and prices are going up! Don’t know the reason. I give you ex. we bought ticket for $200.00 and for the same destination price is $380.00 and more!

  32. Oil prices are low and we saw the prices of air fare went down but since last 1.5 months prices for the same destination went almost double? Why is that? I understand customers may be driving instead flying. So airline has to make money from the people, who are planning to fly! How much profit is enough for airlines?

    1. Hi Devila, Yes, this is a question that many people continue to have. It does seem as though the airlines have not responded in kind to the lower air prices, but quite a few factors go into what makes a particular destination have certain prices. You should check out our just published study on when to buy:, you’ll see that there are different “zones” that have different benefits. If you book very early, you have the most options available, but they usually come at a premium. In addition, we have a tool for individual markets that may be able help you make this decision: Finally, if you check out this blog post, it may help shed light on the factors that determine flight prices: Let us know where you are planning to fly and I can see if we can offer more assistance.

  33. Thanks for the advice. When is d best time to search for tickets from Kingston Jamaica to Fort Lauderdale Florida for early July _ late August

    1. Hi Sue. It’s a little hard to say. We don’t have inbound airfare intelligence for flights to the United States. Our company is based in California and our customer base is North American, so we primarily deal with outbound travel. I can say that the summer months tend to be a busy (translation: expensive) time for travel since a lot of people do tend to take their holidays in the summer months. For that reason, I would advise buying earlier rather than later.

  34. Thanks for the article. My wife and I (seniors) will be flying round trip from Jacksonville, FL to Anchorage, AK departing on August 31st, 2018 and returning September 10th, 2018. We will be participating in a guided tour of Alaska, so dates are pretty firm. When would be the best time to search for tickets, and can you send alerts on these fares?

    1. Hi Ron, you can sign up for alerts on our faretracker page: It’s definitely not too early to be starting a search now. Especially since you’ve got set dates (and probably preferred flight times based on your plans), you should start a search now. The best time to book ON AVERAGE for domestic flights this year is about 70 days out from your travel plans.

  35. We are traveling to Italy from New Orleans so there is no direct flight. We would like to upgrade the portion of the flight that is the overnight ‘leg’ from the states to Rome. I don’t see that option online. How do we upgrade to ‘premium economy’ to get better leg room if we book on one of the low fare sights? Or, is that not a good idea?

    1. Hi there. Are you trying to use frequent flyer miles to upgrade? If not, the best way for you to get that portion as a premium would be to purchase it separately from the U.S. portion of the ticket. That can be a bit annoying in terms of convenience because that would require you to pick up your bags in the states after the first leg of your trip and then recheck for the upgraded ticket.

Post a Comment