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How Far in Advance Should i Book a Flight ?

If you're planning a trip, one of the biggest questions is when to purchase your airline tickets. Book too early and you may miss out on future price drops. Wait too long and you risk prices skyrocketing as seats fill up. So what's the sweet spot for booking flight tickets at the lowest prices?

There's no definitive rule that works for every route and travel date, but plenty of data and expert advice can help guide your flight booking strategy. We'll explore some general recommendations on how far in advance to book domestic and international flights to save the most money.

Domestic Flights within the United States

According to research studies, the best time to book domestic flights within the U.S. is typically:

1-3 months before your travel dates

Data from sources like CheapAir.com, the Airlines Reporting Corp, and others consistently show that the "prime booking window" opens around 3 months before departure. Booking 76-115 days out allows you to beat the majority of price increases that happen closer to the travel dates.

However, the very lowest prices can sometimes be found earlier, around 4 months before departure. CheapAir's annual airfare study found that the absolute cheapest time to book domestic economy flights is 115-175 days in advance.

So if you're looking to maximize savings on flights within the U.S., keep an eye out starting around 4 months before your dates. Just be prepared to book around 3 months out before prices start climbing rapidly.

Some examples of when to book domestic flights:

For a June 15th flight: Book between March 1st - April 30th
For a December 20th flight: Book between August 1st - October 15th

Of course, these are just general guidelines. The "prime booking window" can shift a bit based on the airline, route, dates, demand, and other factors. But in most cases, securing domestic flights 1-4 months ahead will get you the best prices.

International Flights

For flights to international destinations, the ideal booking window shifts out a bit further according to the experts:

4-8 months before travel dates

The general recommendation is to start monitoring prices and be prepared to book international airfare 5-8 months before your travel dates. Flights to Europe, Asia, Australia, and other overseas destinations tend to have their lowest prices somewhere between 4-8 months out in most cases.

Some specifics based on recent studies:

CheapAir found the best prices for international flights around 197 days (6-7 months) in advance
According to Skyscanner data, overseas flights in peak seasons like summer are cheapest around 7 months out
For winter flights to warm destinations, booking 5-6 months in advance can yield the lowest fares
So for a June trip to Europe, you'd want to book somewhere between October and February. For a big Asian adventure in December, aim to have your flights booked by May or June.

Some additional tips on when to book international trips:

For peak summer travel, book even earlier (7-8 months out) if possible to get the lowest fares
Flying to the Caribbean or Central America? These can sometimes be booked a bit later, around 3-4 months before
For complex multi-stop itineraries, get your flights booked 6-9 months in advance

Special Events & Holiday Travel

While those general windows work for most leisure travel dates, it's advisable to book even earlier for holidays or special events when demand and prices will be higher.

For travel around holidays like Christmas, New Year's, Spring Break, or Thanksgiving, aim to book 6-9 months out to find the cheapest rates before they spike.

The same goes for major events like annual festivals, championship sports games, and other big tourist draws. The more demand for a certain travel period, the earlier you'll need to book to lock in the best pricing.

The Bottom Line

While there are no hard and fast rules, travel experts seem to agree that booking domestic flights around 1-4 months in advance and international flights around 4-8 months out is ideal for getting the lowest prices in most cases.

Just be sure to start tracking fares as early as you can, and be ready to book once prices look good in that prime booking window. With the right preparation and flexibility, you'll be able to score affordable flights for your next trip!

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