When picking a flight to get to where you need (or want) to be, it’s almost always a hassle to know if you’re getting the best deal. Let’s face it: The traveler who repeatedly searches for the “best time to buy flights” but still comes out buying that expensive plane ticket isn’t alone. Flight prices are a moving target, and an answer one year doesn’t necessarily work the next. For 2024, flight booking company CheapAir released its 10th annual Airfare Study on how to score the best deal for domestic flights in 2024.
The findings go over the best day to book a flight, the prime booking window, flight booking zones, which days of the week and months are the best to fly and travel, and even the effects of seasonality when traveling. For this study, CheapAir used its own first-party data and analyzed over one billion flight prices across 8,000 markets throughout the United States.
The study found that the best time to purchase domestic travel tickets in 2024 is 42 days before departure. When determining the best time to book, include factors like destination, budget, and travel dates. These three factors are essential when trying to find the best deal, and can make that booking window larger or smaller. It turns out that planning too far ahead can cost you. The study found ticket prices are 36 percent higher 206 to 315 days in advance compared to the prime booking window of 21 to 74 days in advance. That’s worse than booking late (seven to 13 days in advance is about 26 percent costlier than the prime window) but better than booking very last minute (booking the same week of departure is about 59 percent more expensive than the prime window).
Although the idea that flying on a less popular travel day of the week will lead to lower prices has been debated by travel experts, CheapAir found for the second year in a row that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly. Flying on Wednesday saves on average $103 versus Sunday, the most expensive day to fly. Along with days, the cheapest months to fly are January and February, whereas the most costly are November and July.
If you want to dive deeper into the optimal time to fly, CheapAir also has a “Best Time to Buy Flights” widget where you can put in your destination and it will give you the best times to fly and when you should book your tickets.
The best time to buy flights, according to CheapAir’s data
- The cheapest day of the week to fly is Wednesday, saving you an average of $102 compared to Sunday, the most expensive day of the week.
- The prime booking window to purchase a flight is 21 to 74 days before departure, followed by 75 to 205 days before departure. Booking further in advance often results in higher average prices, as does booking closer to 21 days before departure.
- January is the least expensive month to fly, followed by February. Flights in January save travelers around $125 compared to flying in November or July, which are the most costly months.
- When a ticket is on sale, the price changes 49 times on average, with each change an average of $95 each time.
- The data indicates that regardless of the day of the week, the average difference for low fare tickets for airline tickets is less than $1.
- Winter is the least expensive season to travel, and fall and summer are the most costly seasons.