UPDATE: This Airfare Study has the most current information on the best time to book an international flight. Our latest When to Buy Flights study analyzed over 921 million domestic airfares, but a lot of travelers planning international trips are also looking for advice on when to book an international flight.

To help you book a cheap international flight, we:

  • Reviewed 351,568,000 airfares for 1,098,650 international trips over the last year. These airfares covered 3,010 international markets. For each trip, we studied all the possible days you could buy that airline ticket – to uncover when international flights have the lowest fares.
  • While the “Prime Booking Window” for buying domestic flights is about 3 weeks to 3.5 months in advance, international flights are generally cheaper when you buy a little earlier. How early you should buy varies by the region you are traveling to, and we will detail each region for you below.

Table of Contents

1. How to Book an International Flight

2. Specific regions impact how you book an international flight

  1. Book an International Flight to Canada
  2. Book an International Flight to Mexico
  3. Book an International Flight to Central America
  4. Book an International Flight to the Caribbean
  5. Book an International Flight to South America
  6. Book an International Flight to the South Pacific
  7. Book an International Flight to Asia
  8. Book an International Flight to Europe
  9. Book an International Flight to Africa
  10. Book an International Flight to the Middle East

3. How to Book an International Flight in Summer

How to Book an International flight (the rules are different than when booking domestic flights)

International flights go on sale about 11 months in advance, so you could choose to buy your flight anywhere from 11 months in advance up until the day of your flight. What we see in the trends is that buying very early can be almost as costly as buying a last minute airline ticket. The sweet spot for the lowest airfares is somewhere in the middle, and as noted earlier it varies based on international region. Here we break down the average best day to buy your international airline ticket:

when to book international plane tickets

Specific regions and when to book an international flight

1. Book an international flight to Canada
The Canadian market is very similar to the U.S. market – it’s best to buy your airline ticket to Canada 59 days in advance, on average.

2. Book an international flight to Mexico
Mexico is also similar to domestic U.S. flights – you can generally wait about 61 days out for the best fares to Mexico.

3. Book an international flight to Central America
On average, airfares to Central America are also cheapest at 61 days in advance.

4. Book an international flight to the Caribbean
The cheapest flights to the Caribbean are, on average, found when you buy that tropical airline ticket 76 days in advance.

5. Book an international flight to South America
Airfares to South America will set you back the fewest dollars on average at 81 days out.

6. Book an international flight to the South Pacific
A vacation to the South Pacific is best planned about 3+ months in advance, since the cheapest airline tickets, on average, were available 89 days before takeoff.

7. Book an international flight to Asia
Airline tickets to Asia are cheapest right around 3 months (90 days) in advance for the best fares. It’s probably worth noting here that this is a new development. In some past years, both Asia and the South Pacific destinations were better priced 7-9 months out. This gives you more flexibility in planning a trip to Asia.

8. Book an international flight to Europe
The cheapest airline tickets to Europe are, on average, found 99 days before departure.

9. Book an international trip to Africa
If you’re traveling to a country in Africa, you want to plan a little further in advance, as the best airfares to Africa were found 119 days in advance, right around 4 months, on average.

10. Book an international flight to the Middle East
Flights to the Middle East, similar to the results for Africa, are on average cheapest at 119 days in advance, or right around 4 months before departure.

How to book an international flight in summer

Summer brings high demand and high prices for many international flights. If you’re heading to Europe, in particular, you might want to look at buying a little earlier than the average. For more guidance on the best days to fly to Europe this summer, see our Europe Summer Flights page. Conversely, if you’re traveling in the off-season there isn’t the same degree of urgency and you are more likely to be okay waiting longer.

There you have it. In case you want to do further research, here are a few more airfare tools for you to check out:

When to Buy Domestic Flights Study

Guide to Summer Flights

Summer Flights to Europe

Happy travels! Please let us know how we can help you in the comments section below.

Start an international flight search

351 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I plan to fly to Paris from Portland, OR in July 2023. Roundtrip flights look to be around $1500-$2,000 ish right now. Should I wait it out for lower prices?

    • Hi Haylee, you are traveling to Paris at a popular time, and airfares are likely to be high. It is possible airfares will drop but not by much. We recommend buying sooner than later. To save money travel on weekdays. If you are going to more than one city in Europe consider flying to an alternative city with cheaper fares. If you buy on CheapAir.com, we have our Price Drop Payback and you are eligible for a $100 credit if the price of your itinerary drops before your trip. Good luck!

  2. hello, i was planning on going to mexico from canada at the end of march. i have heard from friends that if we waited to book until the beginning of march that they would be cheaper. is this true?

    • Hi Kyle, we wouldn’t wait if you’re heading to the beaches. March is a popular time for leisure travel in Mexico as it is a popular spring break destination. If you’re headed to other parts of Mexico, you might wait a bit longer to see if any deals pop up, but keep in mind the lowest priced tickets are often the least attractive seats on a flight.

  3. Hello! I’m looking for flights from DC to Korea in late September/early October 2020 for 10 days. I found a good flight (Delta/Korean Air) for $800 round-trip, which has anecdotally been on the much lower side. But given the article, should I still wait to book my flight? Thank you!

    • Hi Soonho, No this does seem like a very good fare and we wouldn’t recommend waiting to buy. Our booking window is based on an average fare for each destination, and does not always reflect the best prices on specific itineraries. We always suggest buying when you think you have a “good” fare.

  4. Hi, Im looking at purchasing 2 tickets Orlando to Johannesburg in Mid May, with a return trip 10 days later from Cape Town to Orlando, both with stops in Dubai (Emirates airline). The prices are around $1100 and I think its a good deal, but its still 6 months out and was wondering what you guys would recommend? Thanks!

    • Hi Drew, this is actually a good fare. When I look at fares in that general time frame, $1000-1100 is about the best we do for those dates.

  5. Hi, im looking at booking a flight from Manchester, UK to san fransisco next June (2020), when would you suggest booking? Im sure last year when i looked it was cheapest to buy around January time, but at the moment prices seem to be rising continuously, will they go back down again?

    • Hi Emma, it is (as you know) very difficult to say for sure. We usually recommend people buy if they have been tracking a particular flight or itinerary and see the fares continuing to climb incrementally.

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