How to Book the Cheapest Flights Worldwide

air travel
Photo by michaeljung /

Pop quiz: Will you nab the cheapest airfare by booking a flight as early as possible? Or does it pay to wait till the last minute?

The answer is neither of those options, according to’s latest airfare study — which involved analyzing about 921 million domestic airfares and some 351 million international airfares.

Instead, the website says you should aim for what it calls the “prime booking window” — a range of dates during which you’ll generally find the cheapest fare.

For domestic flights, this window is 21 to 105 days before the travel date, with 54 days out being the single best day to find the cheapest fare, on average.

For international flights, it’s generally best to book a little sooner than you would for domestic flights. But again, neither booking as early as possible nor at the last minute is the best option. explains:

“International flights go on sale about 11 months in advance … What we see in the trends is that buying very early can be almost as costly as buying a last-minute airline ticket. The sweet spot for the lowest airfares is somewhere in the middle, and … it varies based on international region.”

The study found that the single best days to book an international flight at the cheapest rate for various regions are as follows, with the U.S. included as a reference point:

  1. United States: 54 days in advance, on average
  2. Canada: 59 days
  3. Mexico: 61 days
  4. Central America: 61 days
  5. Caribbean: 76 days
  6. South America: 81 days
  7. South Pacific: 89 days
  8. Asia: 90 days
  9. Europe: 99 days
  10. Africa: 119 days
  11. Middle East: 119 days emphasizes that these are simply averages, however. The site says it analyzed more than 2.9 million individual trips — “meaning flights from a Point A to a Point B departing on a specific set of dates” — and across those trips, the best time to book “varied wildly depending on the market, travel dates, and the specific travel preferences/must-haves of the traveler in question.”

This is why we cite being flexible about your travel dates as the first tip in “14 Super Smart Ways to Save on Travel.” As that article explains, not only are there cheaper days on which to buy plane tickets, but there are also cheaper days on which to fly.

For more ways to save on travel, check out “8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017,” which includes a couple of flying freebies.

What has been your experience trying to find the cheapest days to book flights? Share it with us below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement
5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement

Medicare can be confusing. Beware these missteps — which can hike your costs.

Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep

A study finds 96% of retirees make this mistake when claiming Social Security benefits.

14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use

Save your money. These items seem alluring but they often end up as coat racks and dust magnets.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started


Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.

Trending Stories