Fair’s fare: The best days and months to book airline tickets. Your ultimate guide

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While there aren’t many ways to make great travel savings without sacrificing something of the experience, choosing the right time to book a flight and the right day to fly can make a huge difference. Savvy travelers can find that, with a few top tips, including knowing when to search, cheap flights can be easier to find – meaning more cash to splash at the beach bar.

If you’re planning on flying to Europe for a cultured vacation, hopping on a long-haul flight to Canada to explore the wilderness, heading to Australia to soak up the sun, or just wanting 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. 

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What is the cheapest day to book a flight?

According to Skyscanner‘s 2019 Flight Insights data report, travelers could save up to 25% on an airfare if they choose to fly on a Friday from the UK – being flexible also aids this. And by booking four weeks ahead of departure, there are savings of up to 51% on the airfare, too. 

From the US, the cheapest day to book a flight is said to be either Tuesday or Wednesday. International flights are usually cheaper on weekdays, while you will usually find the 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.

Plenty of cities have more than one airport and by switching up which one you fly into, you can find some decent savings there, too. A simple switch from London Luton to Stansted, for example, could easily clock up 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.

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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 an airfare, you’ll find the cheapest days to book 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 airfares.

If, however, you’re looking for the vibrant colours and rich culture of Mexico, the best time to fly 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 anywhere from three months to 99 days before you want to travel. 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 wonderful bargains for a spot of spring or early summer travel.

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The best time to book a flight to Australia

For those looking to fly to 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, perhaps, not the best time for those chasing the sun. In general, cheap flights to Australia tend to depart on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Try to avoid flying on the weekends, as these can 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 traveled routes, such as Sydney to Melbourne, have good discounts now and again, so it’s worth planning ahead.

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What are the cheapest flights to Thailand

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. You’ll also find the tourist hotspots are less packed then, too. The cheapest month to fly to Thailand is September, while public holidays during July, August and December show flight prices spike on certain days during those months.

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 Amazon 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.

And if you’re planning on flying out to the Caribbean, the cheapest airfare prices can be found four months before you travel. For anyone visiting the South Pacific region, book your flights about three months ahead for the bargains.

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So, overall, what is the best month to book airline tickets?

While it depends where you’re traveling 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 five to six months in advance for international journeys.

For those really determined to bag a discounted flight, 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?

While some suggest no, others say yes. According to Skyscanner’s 2019 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 saved on the airfare. 

Airlines often go through a weekly price cycle, too, with prices dropping early in the week, before rising again for the weekend. This does depend on a number of factors, including where you’re flying from. If you’re perusing flights over the weekend, try to hold out for a few days to bag a bargain earlier in the week. 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.

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Do flight prices go up the more you search?

Regular travelers 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. That said, always worth opening an incognito window on Google and cross-checking before you book. 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. 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 deals.

So, what have we learned? A Tuesday at 5am (again, ouch) in January is likely to save you some money and see you booking the cheapest flights. Especially if you book three to six weeks in advance for domestic flights and as far ahead as possible for international.

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Images: AdobeStock, Flash Pack, Unsplash

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