Is there a best time to book flights? Find out
If you’ve ever booked plane tickets, you’ve likely wondered at least once: how can I get the best price for my flight?
Is there a cheapest time to book flights? How far in advance should I book my tickets? Is it possible to find cheap flights at the last minute?
Well, with the help of seasoned travel agents and flight booking experts, we have the answers to all these questions. Read on to discover the best time to book flights — and save your money for fun at your destination.
Read more: Cheap European city breaks to book on a budget
Travel essentials to help you enjoy your flight
What is the best time of day to book flights?
We were surprised to find that the time of day that you book your flights can actually help you find cheaper airline tickets.
While there may not be a ‘perfect time’ to book, Thomas Sentosa from Tom’s Cheap Flights recommends ‘booking flights early in the morning or late at night. [This can] help save money since these are less busy times and therefore less expensive.’
Jessie Moore from Pocket Wanderings adds, ‘Comparison sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights are great for finding the cheapest [airfare].’
You can also use Google Flights and apps like Skyscanner, Hopper and Toms Cheap Flights to monitor your flight itinerary and notify you when prices change.
While these sites are great for finding flights, Jessie (and our editors) recommend booking directly with the airlines. She explains, ‘you won’t have to pay any booking charges, plus you have more protection in the face of delays, booking changes and cancellations when you book direct.’
Ultimately, there may not be an exact best time to book flights, but these tips can save you a lot of time spent researching.
Is any day of the week best for booking flights?
You may have heard that the best day to book flights is on a Tuesday.
And while there may not be huge savings found between booking on a Saturday versus a Tuesday, there is a bit of a difference.
Sentosa says, ‘Many experts recommend booking flights on Tuesdays at around 3:00 pm Eastern Time [8:00pm GMT]. This is when airlines typically release their weekly sales and deals, giving you the best chance of finding a great price.’
Even if the difference in the ticket price is only a couple quid, every pence counts. (And each pound saved on tickets is one you can potentially spend on a tasty gelato or local snack at your destination.)
Which month is best to book flights?
Both of our experts agree that a few months in advance is nearly always the best time to book flights.
Sentosa points out that ‘Airlines often offer the best deals and discounts [two to three months in advance], as they are trying to fill up their planes and maximize their profits.’
He also cautions against booking flights during peak times like school breaks and popular holidays if you want to get the lowest prices.
Many studies have shown that the prime booking window for cheap flight prices is six to eight weeks or about three months in advance.
‘Booking early is the key to saving money on flights,’ Sentosa tells us. ‘This gives you plenty of time to find the best deals and discounts, and it also ensures that you have a good selection of flights to choose from.’
Does booking my flight last minute help?
Many of us have friends and family who tell tales of incredible last-minute flights they’ve booked on the cheap. But is that always the case?
‘In general, it’s not a good idea to wait until the last minute to book your flight,’ Sentosa cautions. ‘Prices can increase dramatically as the departure date approaches, and you may end up paying much more than you would if you booked earlier.
‘While some airlines may offer last-minute deals, it’s risky to wait and hope for a bargain,’ continuing that it’s ‘not guaranteed that you find a good deal.’
Moore adds, ‘Unlike other industries where last minute bookings can get you a great deal, airlines do not operate this way.
‘This is generally because airlines rely on those who need to travel last minute, as well as business travellers who aren’t as fazed by the price, to fill the gaps.’
Ultimately, our experts agree that booking at least three weeks in advance and up to three months before you travel is the prime booking window.
In other words, cheap, last-minute flight bookings are somewhat of a myth and the best time to book flights is not a week before you’re off to the airport.
I’ve booked my flight — now what?
So you’ve followed our advice on the best time to book a flight and you have your *hopefully* cheap plane tickets. Now it’s time to pack!
We’ve hand-picked a selection of our top travel accessories to help you travel like a pro – particularly now that you have expert insights into booking.
On the day of travel you’ll need your passport handy. We love this passport holder for its convenience and personalised style.
The curlicue font not your vibe? We also love this sleek monogrammed leather holder with matching luggage tag.
Of course, you’ll want to check for any travel restrictions that might affect your trip, like necessary vaccinations, visa requirements and travel warnings. But no matter where you’re flying to, you’re going to have to follow the airline rules for liquids.
Breeze through airport security with this easy-to-pack liquids bag from Horizn Studios. It keeps you organised and the envy of the security line.
You’ve done it — you’ve booked the cheapest flight of your life. …And it’s a red eye.
But don’t worry, you can use some of those quid you’ve saved on your tickets to buy yourself this uber comfy travel neck pillow.
And if you’re travelling with kids, we recommend making everything more fun with this Spider-Man one. It gets bonus points from us for its built-in hood to block out light — and keep your secret identity safe while you snooze.
Now that you’ve saved some money on your plane tickets, it’s time to invest in a travel staple that will last you many trips to come.
That’s right, packing cubes. These handy little zip containers will help you keep all your belongings tight and tidy. (Perfect if you’ve decided to go ahead and book that last-minute flight anyways.)
And of course, you can’t leave for the airport without your luggage.
We love the compact design of this cabin suitcase, and the built-in TSA lock means you can travel with peace of mind.
Final call for the best time to book flights
Thanks to industry experts, Jessie Moore and Tom Sentosa, we’ve learned that the best time to book flights is two to three months in advance of your planned trip.
In other words, if you’re looking to travel in about three months, now is the ideal time to book.
Make sure to check out booking apps and websites to monitor the best price deals, then book directly with airlines where possible.
And be sure to purchase all of your travel essentials ahead of time. After all, there’s nothing like showing up to your long-haul flight without a neck pillow or realising you haven’t packed all of your liquids in a transparent travel bag in the security line to remind you that booking cheap tickets is only part of the journey.
But since you’ve booked your flights well in advance (right…?), you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for your upcoming holiday. Happy travels!
Meet the experts
Thomas Sentosa is a flight analyst for Tom’s Cheap Flights.
He’s booked countless flights for himself and others over the years (including multiple trips to his favourite destination, Japan) and his passion for travel led him to join Tom’s Cheap Flights.
He was inspired by the company’s mission to make travel time less consuming and affordable for everyone.
After working in the travel industry for over 10 years, he has garnered plenty of experience in booking flights — as well as other aspects of travel including planning itineraries and coordinating group travel.
Jessie Moore is the founder and director of Pocket Wanderings, a luxury travel brand based in London.
For her entire life, she has had a passion for travel and often found family and friends asking her for travel tips and advice.
Realising she had a lot of useful information to share, she started her travel blog and has seen it grow organically over the years.
Thanks to her successful travel blog and business, she has been able to travel full-time over the past six years. She’s lost count of the flights she’s booked for herself and others, but the number is well over 100.
Prices updated on 14/04/2023. We are not responsible for any changes made to the prices listed.