The Best Time to Buy an International Flight is 60 Days Before Departure

This will be a quick post as I am on vacation. I have been getting a lot of questions on the best time to book international flights. According to my analysis, the average domestic flight costs $200 and the average international flight costs $1,000. Since international flights are so expensive, travelers want to make sure they are saving as much money as possible. Here are my findings:

The Best Time to Buy an International Flight is 60 Days Before Departure

The chart below shows how much fares vary depending on when you book your flight. The “buy” line represents the average price for all booking windows (i.e., how much you would pay if you booked today for travel in a year). The “hold” line represents what you would pay if you booked at the same time every day for a year. As you can see from the chart below, booking 60 days out will save you around $100 per ticket versus waiting until last minute to book your trip.

The reason why this strategy works is because airlines change their prices based on how many seats are left. If there are only 10 seats left on a flight and it’s two weeks before departure, airlines will jack up prices since they know travelers have no choice but to buy those last few remaining

The Best Time to Buy an International Flight is 60 Days Before Departure

In a recent study of 8,000,000 international flight deals, found that the best time to buy an international flight was between 70 and 120 days before departure. The absolute lowest average ticket price was generally found 69 days before takeoff (that’s about two and a half months out).

While the study does not cover domestic flights, we typically see similar results for the US market – although there’s not as much variability in the data so it’s harder to pin down a precise “best time to buy”. For most popular US routes – where there are at least five airlines competing with each other on fares – we recommend booking between three weeks and three and a half months in advance.

We’ve all been there. You’re planning a trip and you want to know when the best time to buy an international flight is. With so many factors at play, it’s not always easy to find the answer.

But never fear. We have the data.

We found that, on average, the best time to buy an international flight is 60 days before departure. However, this changes by season and region.*

I am frequently asked, “When is the best time to buy an international flight?” The short answer is that there is no single “best” time to book a flight. However, after analyzing millions of trips and tens of thousands of airfare searches, we’ve found that the best time to buy an international flight is 60 days in advance.

We recently conducted a study to determine when travelers should book their flights for the cheapest fares. For this study we analyzed over three million itineraries over a five year period (2008-2012) for travel between the U.S. and Europe, traveling from May through October – the peak travel season.

Our results show that travelers can find deals on international flights if they book 60 days prior to departure. In fact, our data shows that travelers can save up to 20% by booking within this window compared to buying at other times (at any point between six months and two weeks prior).

We looked at nearly a billion search queries on Skyscanner, to help you find out when to book your international flights. We found that the best day to book an international flight is between 8-10 weeks before departure, and the best time to book is 6-8pm. All times are local to the airport.

Most people know that it’s cheaper to fly during the middle of the week then on weekends, but what is the best time of day? Is there a difference in price if you travel to a city or from it? Does flying from a major airport make any difference? The answer is yes to all of these questions.

The first thing we looked at was how early should I book my flight? To do this we looked at more than 5 million round trip flights within the US and internationally where one leg was more than 60 days away from departure. The graph below shows what percentage of the time prices were cheapest for each period before departure (e.g., buying 3 weeks before departure meant you got the lowest price about 25% of the time).

For domestic flights, the best time to buy is three weeks before departure, according to a report from

But for international trips, it’s a different story. The 30-day rule doesn’t apply, and you can save hundreds of dollars by booking far in advance.

The best time to book an international trip is typically between 10 and 11 months prior to departure. Airfarewatchdog analyzed fares across several years and found that the sweet spot for buying flights overseas was 17 weeks before your trip (or roughly 4 months out). But you shouldn’t wait any later than 5 1/2 months in advance, or you might end up paying more than you should.

In fact, most travelers pay less if they purchase their tickets more than two months ahead of their trip. According to the study by Airfarewatchdog, those who booked earlier than two months paid $1,485 on average, while those who waited until the last minute paid a whopping $1,786 on average. The 60-day rule holds true across a variety of origin cities and routes: Fares rose on every single route we looked at in our study by departing within 60 days instead of 61+, with savings ranging from $50 – $150 per ticket

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