These are the best — and worst — times to buy plane tickets if you're trying to save money

Ekaterina Pokrovsky/ShutterstockTry to buy your tickets in the prime booking window.
  • You can save money on your airfare, depending on when you buy your ticket.
  • On average, the best deals on domestic flights are available 70 days before takeoff.
  • The worst time to buy your ticket is zero to six days before takeoff.
  • However, booking too far in advance could also cost you more.

Are you in need of a vacation, but have a bank account that disagrees? With a bit of forethought, you don’t have to choose between a holiday and fiscal responsibility.

CheapAir.com analysed over 917 million airfares and nearly 3 million individual trips in 8,000 markets to determine the best and worst times to buy plane tickets this year. Here are some of their findings.


Booking 169 to 319 days in advance will get you the best selection — but not the cheapest tickets.

Brooke Cagle/UnsplashIt pays to wait.

You’ll get the biggest selection of airlines and seats if you book 169 to 319 days in advance, but you’ll also pay $US50 more per ticket on average.


Booking a flight 122 to 168 days in advance will have you spending about $US20 more on average.

istockLock in dates with a good selection but pay a $US20 premium.

Booking between 21 and 121 days in advance is the prime booking window.

l i g h t p o e t/ShutterstockYou want to book your flight 3 to 17 weeks in advance.

Fares tend to be within 5% of the lowest price when you book during this window.


You’re pushing your luck if you buy tickets 14 to 20 days before your flight …

Universal PicturesDon’t try this around the holidays.

Fares begin to rise two to three weeks before any given flight, and popular flights will begin to book up. You definitely don’t want to try this around the holiday season.


but you’re playing with fire if you book your ticket 7 to 13 days before takeoff.

PixieMe/ShutterstockDeals are a long shot.

Not only will you pay $US35 more than the people who booked their flights way in advance (169 to 319 days before), but getting a good deal is a long shot.


Booking your flight zero to six days in advance is by far the worst option.

CheapAir.com calls this the “Hail Mary” of booking flights, because you’ll end up paying an average of $US208 more than you would during the prime booking window, 21 to 121 days in advance.


Additionally, this year, Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly.

ShutterstockTravel on a Wednesday if you can.

Wednesday offers the cheapest flights this year, followed closely by Tuesday. Sunday is the most expensive day to fly and will end up costing you an average of $US76 more than a Wednesday flight.


That said, the prime booking window depends on the season.

It’s best to buy tickets 14 to 160 days in advance in summer, 21 to 110 days in advance in autumn and winter, and 46 to 122 days in advance in spring.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.