Best Time to Buy a Cheap Flight

When to buy an airline ticket

Many experts have opinions on when it is the best time to purchase a flight.  Here are the questions I get asked most by people who want to buy a cheap flight:

What day is the best day to shop?

Some folks say to shop for a flight on Tuesday.  Some file new fares and prices on Monday afternoon, and are usually matched by their competitors by Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.  

A recent study also showed that shopping for flights on Saturdays is best.  What we recommend is to shop every day, compare and buy when you see the lowest price.

If you are flying domestic or to a neighboring country, when should you shop?.  Start shopping minimum 21 days before your flight.  The airlines use a standard advance purchase (AP) schedule to increase (or decrease) their pricing, and often change fares according to these set days.  You can usually purchase flights 330 in advance, but prices change often 21, 14, 7 and 3 days and on the day of travel.

When should you shop or buy flights to Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East:?  

Start shopping 2 months before, and buy 30 to 26 days before your departure.

When to shop or buy your ticket to the Caribbean or Central America?

Start shopping at least a month before, and buy 24 to 14 days before your departure.

Is there a trick to buying a last minute ticket?

As the departure date nears, tickets usually go up.  Most airlines have a few tickets that they hold back for last minute business travelers who often buy 7 days or less before their flight.  In certain cases, you may see the highest price for a flight 3 days before the flight, and drop – there is lower than expected demand – 1 day before departure.  

Three Key things to remember about when to buy a ticket:

  1. Prices change, so make sure you are shopping often and setting up alerts on sites like Google Flight.
  2. Though fares are available 330 days before your flight, the best prices on most flights will be available between two months and 21 days before departure.
  3. Shop on Tuesdays afternoon.


Billy Sanez

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