While there aren’t too many elements of travel where you can make great savings without sacrificing something of the experience, choosing the right time to book a flight and the right day to fly can mean serious savings without losing comfort or time.
Savvy travellers can find that with a few top tips and knowing when to search, the cheap flights are easy to find, meaning more cash to splash at the beach bar.
If you’re planning on flying to Europe for a cultured vacation, hauling over to Canada to hike into the wilderness or hopping over to Australia to soak up the sun down under or just willing to head anywhere to get away from it all, we’ve got the top tips to make sure your airfare doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
What is the cheapest day to book a flight?
From the UK the cheapest day to book a flight is on a Sunday, while the cheapest day to actually fly is usually a Friday. According to Skyscanner’s 2019 Flight Insights report, travellers could save up to 21% on airfare if they choose to fly from the UK on a Friday.
From the US the cheapest day to book a flight is either Tuesday or Wednesday. International flights are usually cheaper on weekdays while you will usually find airfare is cheaper for internal flights if you book on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. The most expensive days to book flights from the US are usually Fridays or Sundays.
The best time to book a flight to Canada or Mexico
If you’re yearning for the expansive wilderness of Canada, but don’t want to splash too much cash on airfare, you’ll find the cheapest days to book flights to Canada are Thursdays and Sundays. If you can book in the months of January or February, even better as those are the top months to score discounted airfare.
If, however, you’re looking for the vibrant colours and rich culture of somewhere a little warmer, a trip to Mexico may be more palatable. The best time to fly for airfare discounts is during March. On average, booking your flights 61 days before you would like to depart will lead to cheaper prices too.
The best time to book a flight to Europe
If you’ve got your sights set on Europe, look to book your flights between 3 months and 99 days before you want to fly in order to score discount airfare. Flight prices tend to be at their lowest during this timeframe so there should be plenty of bargains to be had. March is also a particularly good time to book cheap flights to Europe, so there should be some good bargains for a spot of Spring or early Summer travel.
The best time to book a flight to Australia
For those looking to fly into Australia, the cheapest flights tend to depart between mid-April and mid-June as it’s low season. It will be a bit cooler and not the best time for those looking to spend some time in the sun though.
In general, cheap flights to Australia tend to depart on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Try to avoid flying on the weekends though, these tend to be the most expensive flights.
If you want the cheapest domestic or internal flights in Australia, the best time to book is 21 weeks ahead of when you want to fly. Even the most travelled routes, such as Sydney to Melbourne, have good discounts now and again so it’s worth planning ahead.
The cheapest flights to Thailand tend to depart outside of the high season, so if you’re looking to travel during October to February, flights will unfortunately be a bit more expensive. If you can be flexible, the cheapest flights can be found from May to October and you’ll also find the tourist hotspots are less packed. The cheapest month to fly to Thailand is September, while public holidays during July, August and December mean that flight prices will spike on certain days during those months.
The best time to book a flight to Thailand
The best time to book a flight to Central or South America
If adventure is calling, you could do a lot worse than heading over to South America, where the Amazonian rainforest, Patagonian glaciers and Incan ruins are ripe for exploration. But don’t spend all your cash on passage over there, look to book about four to five months ahead for the cheapest flights to South America.
If you’re planning on flying out to the Caribbean, the cheapest airfare prices can be found four months before you plan to fly. For anyone travelling over to the South Pacific region, book your flights about three months ahead for the best flight bargains.
What is the best month to book airline tickets?
While it depends where you’re travelling to and from, on average, the best month to book airline tickets from the UK is January. Keep in mind that destination, length of flight, seasonality and weather can all have an impact on when the cheapest flights are available.
If you have a specific time you want to travel, look to book for domestic trips two to three weeks in advance, and 5-6 months in advance for international journeys.
For those really determined to bag those bargain flights, be prepared to set your alarm clock. According to Skyscanner, the best time to book for the cheapest flights is 5am. Ouch.
Do flight prices go down on Tuesday?
According to Skyscanner’s data, they do, often by a quite significant 15 to 25%. Most airlines seem to launch their discounts on Monday nights so lining up your bookings on a Tuesday morning could see a chunk of cash to be saved on airfare.
Airlines often go through a weekly price cycle, with prices dropping early in the week, before rising later in the week ready for the weekend and to make up for the early week price drops, but this does depend on a number of factors, including where you’re flying from. So if you’re perusing flights over the weekend, try to hold out for a few days to bag the cheapest flights.
Do flight prices go up the more you search?
Regular travellers will notice that the more you browse the flights on offer, the more expensive they seem to get. While it might be tempting to think there’s a secret conspiracy to trick you out of some of your holiday savings, there’s no reliable evidence that airlines increase flight prices the more you search. Flight prices do naturally rise closer to their departure date, so if you take too much time to choose your flight it is likely to cost a bit more than when you first searched.
If you book directly with an airline, and not via a third party or package, you’ll find the same prices across flight search sites like Kayak, Skyscanner and Expedia.
How many days before a flight is the best price?
A number of factors impact this, including how well a particular flight or route is selling as well as where you’re flying from and to, but airlines do have some price patterns that can be useful to take into account. Skyscanner recommends booking international flights as far ahead as possible to get the cheapest price, while domestic flights tend to be at their cheapest at about three to six weeks before travel.
Of course, this depends on a ton of different and ever-changing factors, like how well that particular flight or route is selling. But Skyscanner was able to crunch the numbers and found a few patterns, which should help you find the best possible price for your trip.
Top tips for buying cheaper flights
1. Look for flight price alerts
Some flight search services also offer flight alerts. Sign up to these to be told when prices, drop, rise or are likely to get a lot more expensive.
2. Be flexible with the days you fly
If you’re set on flying on a particular Monday morning, your options for cheap flights are going to be limited, but if you’re happy to switch things up a bit, you could find some serious savings just by flying a day or two earlier or later.
3. Multiple airports mean more options
Plenty of cities have more than one airport and by switching up which one you fly into you can find some decent savings. A simple switch from London Luton to Stansted, for example, could easily rack up the savings without much of an impact on travel plans. And don’t assume that smaller airports will be cheaper than larger ones, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.
4. Mix it up
Don’t feel the need to stay loyal to one airline for your whole trip. Flying out with one airline and back with another may take a bit more time during the booking process, but it could help you snatch the cheapest flights.