Flight prices can fluctuate greatly, which is why knowing when to book tickets can make a big difference in the final price of a trip.
This is US based research and relates to US domestic flight travel. A different market dollar wise to other countries, but we see similarities in the purchase windows highlighted for domestic fares elsewhere.
To help travelers as they plan out their upcoming flights a US based online research project has pulled together its annual airfare study on the best times to book flights in 2019 based on 917 million airfares from last year 2018.
Airfares changed an average of 61 times before a trip in 2018. This can make tracking exact times to book tricky, but there are overarching patterns travelers can look at to make sure they don’t miss out on deals. Overall, the study found 76 days before a trip to be the best time to book domestic flights, though there are various booking periods that come with their own benefits.
Take a look at the six booking zones identified below, showcasing how airfares generally look from the time they are published at about 11 months before a trip to the last minute travelers are able to buy tickets:
First Dibs (about 10 months to 6.5 months in advance): recommend this window for travelers who care more about securing specific flight times or seats than getting the best price. These tickets can cost around $50 more than those available in the most affordable zone.
Peace of Mind (about 6.5 to 4 months in advance): Travelers booking during this period can expect to pay around $20 more than the most affordable booking zone on flights, but they should find a decent amount of flight options.
Prime Booking Window (about 4 months to 3 weeks in advance): This booking window is when travelers can expect the biggest savings.
Push Your Luck (2 to 3 weeks in advance): Travelers might still find cheap tickets during this time, though the odds are not as good as they are in the prime booking window. Seat selections also start to dwindle during this period, so travelers may spend additional money to book a better seat option.
Playing With Fire (1 to 2 weeks in advance): While waiting this long will often mean limited choices and higher prices than the prime booking window, booking during this time is still close to $135 less on average per ticket than buying at the very last minute.
Hail Mary (less than a week in advance): This is when travelers can expect the highest prices, with tickets costing close to $220 more than what they typically do during the prime booking window.