When deciding the best time to book your flight, you've most likely asked yourself: Is it worth waiting to see if the price drops? Are there days of the week when it's cheapest to book? When is the best time to buy airfare for the holidays?
Well, there's good news and bad news: The good news is that there isn't one right answer for when the best time is to book your flight. The bad news is that there isn't one right answer for when the best time is to book your flight.
"Everyone wants a golden rule for when to book flights for the best price," Hayley Berg, who works as lead economist at Hopper, a travel app that predicts cost for flights and hotels, tells TODAY.com.
"The reality is that the best time to book a flight depends on a number of factors, like where you’re flying to, the dates, if you’re flying with stops or without, what cabin class you’re considering, etc."
Travelers can utilize tools like Hopper, which allows you to set a "Watch" alert for when flight prices drop, or Kayak's new Best Time to Travel feature that gives you the cheapest dates to choose from for traveling to your desired destination.
However, if you have a specific date range in mind and want to know when you should be jumping on a deal, we have you covered.
Which day is the cheapest to book a flight?
Many travel sites will say booking on different days of the week will result in cheaper flights. However, according to Jesse Ashlock, deputy global editorial director and U.S. editor of Condé Nast Traveler, booking on a specific day of the week makes no difference.
“There’s no magical day of the week, which some people will tell you," Ashlock said on TODAY Aug. 9.
However, Ashlock does recommend people mark their calendar for Travel Deal Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving that is basically the Black Friday and Cyber Monday of travel deals, as a day to score potential flight deals.
Other than that, "You're not going to get a better deal by (booking) on a Wednesday," Ashlock said.
Which day is the cheapest to fly?
While there isn't a day of the week to book your flight that guarantees you cheaper airfare, there are days of the week to fly that could shave off a few bucks.
According to Expedia's 2023 Air Travel Report, flying out on a Wednesday for domestic flights can save you on average 15% compared to the beginning of the week (Sunday or Monday), and for international flights, you can save on average 10% with a Wednesday ticket compared to flying out over the weekend.
Berg says that Hopper's findings are similar: Travelers who depart on a Tuesday or Wednesday can save on average 17% on domestic flights. CheapAir.com's 2023 International Airfare Study echoes similar sentiments for international travel, saying that flying out on a Tuesday or Wednesday grants the best chance at booking a cheaper flight compared to the other days of the week.
When to book flights for summer travel
Berg says the general rule of thumb is to book your flight three-to-five months out from your departure date. For your summer travel, that means as early as January, which Berg says is one of the best months to snag a good deal.
"January is one of the cheapest months to buy flight tickets," she tells TODAY.com. "Airfare prices typically drop in January after the holiday travel season because of low demand making it a good time to book flights, especially for travel through the rest of the winter."
She also notes that for long-haul international trips from the U.S., like to Asia or Australia, flight tickets are often at their lowest five months out.
If your summer travel dates can be flexible, Berg suggests considering booking your flights to travel in September to avoid the expensive airfare during peak summer months.
"You can save as much as 30% off peak summer prices just by traveling in September versus peak summer months, like July and August," Berg explains.
When to book flights for the holidays
The sooner you know that you're traveling in November and December, the sooner you can start monitoring airfare prices since flight costs in the months leading up to the holiday season will see-saw. However, Berg says to resist the temptation to officially book until the summer months are over.
"Holiday fares remain high through the summer then drop slowly into September and October," she says. "The best time to book your holiday trips is typically in September and early October when prices will be as much as $100 cheaper per ticket than they are (in the summer)."
Ashlock says that you should stick to a 20-to-60-day window when booking your travels for the holiday season and winter travel at large. In August, for example, Ashlock suggests people start booking for October travel.
Don't book your flights too early
Just like you don't want to wait until the last-minute to book your flight, you also don't want to lock in your airfare too far out from your departure date.
Expedia's 2023 Air Travel Report says booking out too far in advance can cost you. The report states that domestic flights purchased "earlier than 113 days out has historically been more expensive," but the upside to booking early is having more flights to choose from.
Save money by being flexible with your dates — and your destination
If you're not locked into traveling during a specific date, you can save yourself a pretty penny by being flexible with when you travel based on when it's cheapest to fly.
Sites like Kayak and Skyscanner, a metasearch engine and travel agency, lets travelers see pricing on a monthly calendar view so it's easy to toggle between dates to find the cheapest time to fly.
"Pricing and crowds are both driven by demand, and this is totally dependent on route and time of travel," Laura Lindsay, global travel trends expert at Skyscanner, tells TODAY.com. "If possible, being flexible and flying on less popular days of the week will make it easier to find deals."
Another way to save money on your flights is being open to the destination.
"Let’s say you know what dates you’ve got to travel on, but you could go anywhere, you don’t have to be anywhere," Ashlock said on TODAY. "You can go on Skyscanner and choose the dates you want and then the option 'Explore Everywhere,' and then you can skim what the most affordable flight options are.
"One of the things I like about this is you kind of let your vacation choose you, there’s a little bit of element of surprise there, which can be really fun," Ashlock concluded.