There's A Sweet Spot For Scoring Cheap Plane Tickets — Here's When To Book

Early birds don't always get the best prices. ✈️

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
​Someone uses an airport self-service terminal. Right: A plane takes off.

Someone uses an airport self-service terminal. Right: A plane takes off.

Timing is crucial when booking plane tickets, with certain time frames offering the best prices and choices. Many travellers assume that booking early guarantees the lowest fares, but a recent report from Cheap Air reveals that that isn't always the case.

The travel agency analyzed millions of flights to determine the best time to book based on pricing trends and found some time frames offer a balance between low fares and available choices, while others come with higher prices and fewer options.

Here's how to land the right balance:

212 to 310 days (seven to 10 months) in advance

Although booking early can give you the most choice in seats and flight times, it's generally not the best option for those looking to save money. Cheap Air found that the wide range of options available during this time frame comes with a higher ticket price than listings closer to departure.

165 to 211 days (five and a half to seven months) in advance

This time frame can offer a balance between low fares and available choices. Cheap Air found that it is slightly less expensive than those further out from the departure date, but still not ideal.

46 to 164 days (one and a half to four and a half months) in advance

This window is the prime booking period, and consistently offers the lowest flight prices for travelers. Although it is slightly earlier than in recent years, it is the most reliable time frame for finding the best fares.

14 to 45 days (two weeks to one and a half months) in advance

Prices start to spike right around 45 days from your travel date, so booking during this time frame is a roll of the dice. If you're lucky, you might find a deal, but on average, you'll spend more than if you were in the prime booking window.

One to two weeks before departure

While you might find a deal during this time frame, on average you'll spend more than if you were in the prime booking window. Still, if you need to book a quick flight, you'll save $60 USD on average in this window than if you book with less than a week for take-off.

Zero to six days before departure

Those who wait until the last minute can expect to pay $124 USD more than if they had booked during the prime window.

Although the prime booking window is generally the best time to find low fares, it's important to consider fare fluctuations and other factors that may affect pricing. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the destination, time of year, and other factors.

Just remember that airlines typically increase prices the closer you get to departure day, so being too eager or waiting too long can cost you more money in the end.

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an award-winning writer, editor and former radio journalist with a passion for finding hidden gems in the city.