Cheapest Time – Want to get the cheapest flight possible? You’re not alone. We’re always trying to lock in the lowest price for airline tickets, whether it’s to visit family or for that next great vacation. Thanks to the internet and online travel agencies and discount providers that replaced traditional agents, we now have access to a broader range of prices and options and all at our fingertips.

Why Do Cheapest Airline Ticket Prices Fluctuate?

If you’re interested in getting the best deal on flights, it helps to understand what causes changes in pricing. Timing plays an important part. Specifically, plane tickets usually don’t get cheaper closer to the departure date or if you book too early—more than five months in advance. Instead, flights tend to be the least expensive when you book between 5.5 and 1.5 months (164 and 46 days) in advance of your departure date.

According to, you can expect rates to be higher both before and after that period. There may, of course, be some compounding factors that can affect this. For example, seasonal changes and holidays can have a big impact on pricing at different times.

The Volatility of Cheap Airfare Prices For A days

Discount airfare company analyzes millions of flights and ticket prices each year. In its 2023 study, the company looked at fares for more than 917 million flights in over 8,000 markets. The results show volatility is the main reason behind the prices of flights.

Cheapest Time to Book a Flight

The company found that ticket prices fluctuate based on the time span between the purchase and the flight, seasonality, and holidays. According to the study, the day of the week of your purchase is a myth and does not affect the price of tickets. However, the day of the week that you fly does matter: Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays, are the least expensive for domestic flights, and Fridays and Sundays are the priciest.

6 Booking Zones

From its extensive analysis, identified six booking zones for airfares based on the number of days before departure and what to expect during each of them. Here’s how fares compare across each booking zone. The table below lists each booking period, the number of days in advance, and some of the key considerations for each.

Booking Period Days in Advance Notes
First Dibs 212 to 315 Expect to pay about $50 more than if you waited to get the lowest airfare. But you will probably have more choices for itinerary and seating.
Peace of Mind 165 to 211 Tickets cost about $20 more than if you waited for the lowest airfare. There are plenty of good options for seats and flights.
Prime Booking Window 46 to 164 This is the ideal time to hunt for bargains and book your flights as airfares average within 5% of their lowest prices.
Push Your Luck 14 to 45 Fares often rise as the most convenient options are sold out and the best seats are taken but you may luck out and find some lower fares.
Playing with Fire 7 to 13 Ticket prices average $135 less than if you wait until the last minute to buy your tickets, but it’s still not the ideal time to buy. Flight and seat choices are also limited by this time.
Hail Mary  0 to 6 Try to avoid booking flights during this period unless a last-minute emergency arises. You’ll pay an average of $220 more than if you booked during the prime booking window.

Seasonal Considerations

The general recommendations that lays out in the six booking zones can be helpful guidelines for buying plane tickets. But the company notes they may change depending on the season.

  • Fall: You can usually wait a bit longer to book fall travel and still get decent deals. The average best time to buy is 49 days in advance. The exception is Thanksgiving week, for which you should book travel earlier.
  • Winter: Travel around the Christmas and New Year holidays will usually cost more no matter what; otherwise, winter can be an affordable time to travel. For non-holiday travel, you can buy plane tickets a mere 26 days in advance and still get a good deal.
  • Spring: Many people travel during a wide range of days for spring break, so the key to travel during this season is to plan ahead. If possible, buy your tickets 87 days in advance.
  • Summer: This is the most popular season for American travel. recommends planning ahead and buying your tickets 182 days in advance for air travel during this time.

Additional Tips for Booking Flights

While you shop around for the best possible cheapest flight, remember the tips and windows of time laid out by above. But you should also remember one more thing: When you spot a bargain, take it. If you wait, it may cost your more money in the end. Generally speaking, the longer you wait, the more you’ll end up paying, which may not be good for your budget.

Another thing to consider is how a travel rewards credit card could help with saving money on airfare. For example, you may be able to find a card that offers perks such as:

  • Free checked bags
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credits
  • Free companion passes
  • Elite status in frequent flyer programs
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Free food and drinks onboard
  • Complimentary in-flight WiFi

Those kinds of benefits may not trim money off your actual ticket cost but they can save you on other flight-related expenses. Checking out some of the best travel rewards cards can help you find one that offers the right combination of rewards, benefits, and costs. When comparing travel rewards cards, be sure to consider whether any blackout dates or other restrictions may apply for booking award travel.

When Is the Best Period to Book a Flight?’s survey on airline ticket prices recognizes six booking periods for cheapest airlanes. The best time to book an airline flight is the prime booking window, which is 46 to 164 days in advance. Airfares generally average 5% of their lowest prices during this period. Compare that to last-minute bookings (between 0 and six days in advance) when you’ll pay an average of $220 more than the prime booking window.

Why Do Airline Prices Fluctuate?

There are a number of reasons why airline prices fluctuate. These factors include booking and flight seasons, holidays, seasonal changes, and overall volatility. For instance, the travel restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic pushed prices down as demand for travel waned. Similarly, higher fuel costs and consumer demand can push ticket prices higher.

How Do I Find the Best Airline Ticket Prices?

The best way to find the cheapest airline ticket price is to shop around. Price your tickets with different airlines and agents. You can always consult individual cheapest airlines and traditional travel agents, or search online for the best price yourself. Emergencies can arise, but booking your ticket up to seven months in advance will get you the best seats and low prices. But the best time to book your ticket is the prime booking window, which is between 46 and 164 days in advance.1

What Is the Best Day of the Week to Book Airline Tickets?

You may have heard that there is a cheap window of time during the week to book your airline tickets. According to, that’s a myth. The day and time of the week have no impact on ticket prices.

What Is the Cheapest Day of the Week to Fly? has found that Wednesday is the least expensive day to fly and costs almost $100 less than if you fly on Sunday, the priciest day to fly. Tuesday is the second cheapest day to fly.

The Bottom Line

Getting a great deal on flights means understanding what affects airfare pricing. In 2020, domestic fares dropped sharply from $352 to $292 on average due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines increased prices after the restrictions were lifted, thanks to higher inflation, fuel costs, and a rise in consumer demand. U.S. Bureau of Transportation. “Airline Fuel Cost and Consumption (U.S. Carriers – Scheduled), January 2000 – October 2023.”

4 But airfares were down more than 13% in October 2023 compared to prices at the same time in 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index data. Still, you can save if you use an airline miles credit to book flights that help you earn miles or points toward future air travel. You may also consider joining one or more frequent flyer programs to rack up additional money-saving miles.

Maximum savings with minimum hassle. That’s what a Discover Online Savings Account is all about. With no monthly fees and no minimum opening deposit, you’ll be able to make the most of your saving and earn interest over 5x the national savings average. Enter Offer Code DD124 and earn up to a $200 bonus on your first Discover Online Savings Account after depositing at least $25,000. See advertiser website for full details.

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