When is the best time to book a flight?

Earlier this summer, one of our editors booked a September flight for $232.

When she last checked in August, the price had gone up to $697.

Same flight.

Same pretzels.

Triple the price.

All that has changed is time.

This begs the question: when is the best time to book a flight? When is it too early? Late? Is there a best day of the week to book? How about the best travel days?

And when will prices return to “normal”?

Let’s find the best time to book flights!

What is the best day of the week to book a flight?

Right off the bat, let’s challenge a common “hack” you may have seen on TikTok or elsewhere: “The best time of the week to book a flight is Tuesday morning/Saturday evening/Wednesday at 4:09 am.”

And to keep us on the same wavelength, they talk about the best time and day of the week to board and book a flight, not the best day to travel.

This is an important distinction as there is overwhelming evidence that there is definitely the cheapest day of the week to travel, which we will cover in the next section.

But the best time and day of the week for book? It does not exist.

“I regularly search and book flights and find great deals every day of the week,” Phil Dengler, founder of, told CNN. “Flight prices depend on complex algorithms, and the day of the week is not one of the factors.”

“We see offers every day and send out 24/7 fare alerts, so we don’t think Tuesday’s hypothesis holds water,” writes “Every day is a great day to find a cheap flight.”

This can be surprising to hear, especially considering that the price of airfare is highly dependent on the price of oil, which itself can fluctuate daily. The point is that there are the best days of the week to fill up your car at the gas station.

However, there is no “red tag” for the day of the week for flights.


“This is contrary to what some online sources are saying,” writes “But in reality, the average low fare only varies by about $1, regardless of the day of the week you buy the ticket.”

So don’t worry about setting your alarm for Tuesday morning to book your trip to Phoenix.

However, you should consider what days you can come.

What days of the week should you travel?

The cheapest day of the week to fly is Wednesday.

According to CheapAir’s 2022 Annual Flight Survey, Wednesday flights are an average of $57 cheaper than their most expensive day, which is Sunday.

Source: CheapAir Annual Airfare Survey 2022.

Tuesday was a damn close second, highlighting that very few travelers – business or leisure – want to take a mid-week flight.

Another perk of booking a mid-week trip is how (relatively) quiet and peaceful the airport will be. According to an interesting study by, major US airports tend to have the shortest TSA queues on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, averaging only 1-3 minutes. In contrast, Friday morning wait times tend to hover around half an hour!

And of course, mid-week travel is not always ideal, but if you have the opportunity, it will be cheaper, less stressful, and the line for pre-flight Popeye will be much shorter.

How far should you book flights for the best prices?

So it doesn’t really matter what time or day of the week you book your flight, it’s just that you’re trying to book travel days for the middle of the week if possible.

Next question: how far Is it worth booking flights, both domestic and international?

Best time to book domestic flights

Everyone knows that if you book your ticket too late, you are likely to pay procrastination tax.

But did you know that it is also possible to book a flight too early?

Source: CheapAir Annual Airfare Survey 2022.

CheapAir data for 2022 shows that ticket prices tend to follow a sort of leg-shaped curve:

  • When a flight is first listed in about a year, the average domestic ticket costs about $280.
  • Then, about 220 days later, prices reach an early peak of $300 at the knee.
  • Ticket prices then begin to cool before hitting a low of around $260 exactly 76 days later.
  • Finally, over the course of 76 days, prices begin to rise exponentially and then skyrocket during that three-week window.

The main takeaway from all this?

The best time to book a flight is between 127 and 24 days, with prices bottoming out around 76 days before departure.

MRW I book during the main booking window | Source:

To get the best price, consider setting up a Google or Kayak price alert about 127 days in advance and keep an eye on them for the last month before you fly. CheapAir calls this the main booking window.

Of course, you can always book flights before than this for a decent price, good selection of seats and overall tranquility. And, depending on the airline, you can simply cancel your booking and rebook at a lower price if/when it becomes available.

Best time to book international flights

As you might have guessed, the ideal window for booking international flights is much further away. According to CNN, it’s best to start looking for and set price alerts 10 to 11 months later, and then pull the trigger after 5 to 6 months.

Of course, some global destinations may become cheaper up to five months before departure. According to CheapAir’s 2022 annual international flight survey, flights to the Caribbean, Central America and South America actually open Prime Booking windows in about two to five months. But if you are flying to Oceania, Asia or the Middle East, you need to find a seat 10 months before departure.

The main booking window in Europe falls in the middle: from one to six months before departure.

As for which days of the week the cheapest fares are offered, they are the same as within the country: Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sunday, of course, is expensive. On average, you’ll save $103 by flying to Europe on a Tuesday or Wednesday instead of Sunday. If you fly to the South Pacific on a Tuesday, you’ll save a whopping $350 one way.

What about holiday flights (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.)?

Holidays are the busiest and most expensive time to fly in the United States, and they’re not getting any cheaper.

According to Hopper’s 2021 Holiday Travel Report, the average domestic airfare for Christmas-related travel was $390 round trip, up 55% from 2020. Turkey Day (aka Thanksgiving) cost $300 round trip, up 23% from the previous year.

So how can you get a good deal in 2022 and beyond?

To begin with, our previously discussed life hacks for finding deals still apply:

  • Start searching 127 days ahead
  • Avoid traveling on Sundays
  • Set price alerts

But the #1 hack for getting cheap airfare for your vacation is to simply be flexible with your dates.

Almost everyone wants to arrive a day or two before the holiday itself and fly out the following Sunday. As a result (and to no one’s surprise), the most expensive holidays in 2021 were Sunday 28 November and Sunday 26 December.

But, according to Hopper’s report, the cheapest Holiday travel days were Monday 22 November and Tuesday 21 December.

CheapAir predicts the cheapest days to travel in 2022 will be Friday, November 25th; Tuesday, December 13; and Tuesday, January 3rd.

Source: CheapAir 2022 Cheap Flight Report

Of course, that’s a pretty wide window for Christmas, and depending on your family dynamics, it could be a little more. too much lots of holiday spirit.

Thankfully, CheapAir is also predicting a significant price drop – if not a bottom – for the week of December 28-31.

Finally, don’t forget about the “rebooking hack”

Last but not least, if you want to get the best possible price, you should know that booking is only half the battle.

This is because if the price goes even lower after you book, many airlines will actually let you rebook on the same flight and keep the difference.

Southwest is renowned for letting you do just that. Other airlines have more restrictions or may require you to purchase a higher class ticket (such as a Delta Main Cabin) in order to qualify for a free rebooking.

But every airline is required by law to allow you to cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking. So at least you can check the price of the flight you just booked for the next morning and if it’s cheaper you know what to do!

When will prices return to “normal”?

From gasoline reaching $5 a gallon to a dollar tree becoming a $1.25 tree, it’s hard to believe that inflation overall is “only” 9%.

For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that flights are up a whopping 25% year-on-year.

So when will prices return?

Well, with current staffing challenges and rising jet fuel prices, it’s hard to say exactly when — if ever — airlines will bring prices back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

But fortunately, Hopper estimates that by the time you read this at the end of 2022, prices will have temporarily dropped to their lowest point due to a lull in demand between the summer and winter holidays.

So if you are looking for the best time to book next summer trip to Paris, it’s now!

bottom line

Booking a flight at the right time can definitely save you $100, but it’s not the only way to save on travel.

To learn more, check out my guide How to Travel Cheap: 7 Ways to See the World Cheaper.

And to choose the right card, check out our list of the best Travel Rewards credit cards.

Featured Image: ViDI Studio/

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