Booking a flight in your target price range is an art.
Prices may change according to where you’re going, at what time, from which airports, and on which day you look — even which hour of the day.
Any guidance to get the lowest price you can, then, is welcome. CheapAir.com analysed 1.9 million international trips originating in the United States and determined that the most advantageous time to buy varies considerably by destination.
The site found that people travelling to Asia will want to buy furthest in advance: an average of 318 days, or about 10 months. Those travelling to Latin America can procrastinate the longest, securing a cheap flight at 97 days early, or about three months.
CheapAir also looked at domestic flights, and, based on an analysis of 4.9 million trips in 2014, found that the best time to buy is 47 days in advance — about seven weeks.
CheapAir has a few words of caution, though, when it comes to the guidelines:
There are a lot of numbers here, and a lot of generalizations. Similar to domestic flight data, to some extent every trip is different and circumstances vary depending on where you’re going and your exact travel dates. The key takeaway, though, is that with international flights you are much more likely to miss out on a good fare by booking too late than for domestic flights — and much less likely to regret booking too early.
The majority of international routes have a relatively small number of flights and, while prices change frequently, the price fluctuations are driven more by availability changes (i.e. flights filling up and getting more expensive because of it) than by sales coming and going (which are common for domestic flights and tend to move fares both up and down). That doesn’t mean that sales and price drops never happen for international flights or that good deals can never be had at the last minute. It just means that those are both less common — especially when you’re flying in the summer.