The Best Time to Buy Plane Tickets for the Best Deals

These expert-backed tips will help you know when to click "buy."
Best Time to Buy Plane Tickets for the Best Deals
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Harriet Baskas
by Harriet Baskas
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Choosing the flight that whisks you to your next big adventure can be intimidating, confusing and time-consuming, especially if you're asking the question: when is the best time to buy plane tickets? Airlines don't make it easy to figure out. The fare for each seat on a plane can (and does) keep changing based on algorithms that take a myriad of factors into consideration, including how many seats are available in each cabin of the plane, how fast those seats are selling, seasonality, and the overall demand for the route.

So how do you know when it's the best time to buy your plane tickets? Whether you're searching for the best flight for your destination wedding in Italy or an affordable route to a bachelorette party in Nashville, we've got you covered with these tips.

When to Buy Plane Tickets for the Caribbean and Mexico

When to buy plane tickets for your destination wedding or honeymoon
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If you're planning a destination wedding or a honeymoon in the Caribbean or Mexico, Hayley Berg, lead economist at booking app Hopper, says you'll spot the best fare by starting to monitor prices at least four to six months in advance of your desired travel dates—and be ready to book your tickets two to three months in advance of your trip.

For major events and adventures that might coincide with traditionally busy periods, like high season (December through April) or spring break (March and April), Berg suggests looking and booking further out to ensure you'll snag the best deals.

When to Buy Plane Tickets for Other International Flights

International flights for your wedding day
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When traveling to international destinations beyond the Caribbean and Mexico (perhaps for your destination wedding in Europe), Berg's advice is pretty much the same: Start monitoring prices far in advance of your trip so you can recognize when the price dips. Just be careful you don't click "buy" at the wrong time. Travelers often overpay for their international tickets either by booking too far in advance or too close to their departure date, Berg says.

Her advice is to start monitoring prices six or seven months before your trip, and be ready to book your ticket three to five months before your desired departure date. For anyone planning a long-haul trip to a destination in Asia or Australia, Berg says look to lock in the lowest airfares about five months before your desired departure date.

When to Buy Plane Tickets for a Domestic Flight

Domestic flights for your honeymoon
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For most domestic trips, airfares typically drop between one and three months before your desired departure date and then rise rapidly in the last three to four weeks before takeoff, Berg says. That means there's a "sweet spot" where you may see airlines offering lower prices, floating promotional discounts and ultra-low fares, she says.

To take advantage of these deals, Berg recommends you start monitoring prices for your destination three to four months before your trip using a price monitoring tool (like Google Flights), which will watch the published fares for your trip in real time, then send you a notification when it's the best time to buy your flight.

When to Book Flights to Travel in Summer 2024

Flights to Italy in 2024
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It's not too soon to begin looking at domestic and international fares for trips you plan to take in summer 2024. For domestic trips, if you're traveling over a popular weekend, start planning at least five to six months in advance and expect to book three to four months in advance for the best prices and availability, Berg says. Keep in mind that prices will hike (and many flights will sell out) around Memorial Day and Fourth of July, so you'll find lower fares by searching for different dates. For international trips in summer 2024, begin monitoring prices six or seven months ahead of time.

How to Find Last-Minute Flight Deals

how to find last minute flights for your honeymoon or wedding
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If you want to (or must) travel last minute, there are strategies you can use to find low prices and last-minute flight deals. When searching for flights, choose the option for "+3 or -3 days," which will show fares a few days before or after the day you want to fly. Similarly, many flight search tools offer a "nearby airport" setting that may turn up a good deal on an alternate airport serving your city or the one you're going to. And sometimes, searching for two one-way fares on the same or different airlines can be cheaper than a last-minute round-trip ticket.

Expert Tips on Getting the Lowest Airline Ticket Price

how to find the lowest airfare price
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Whether you're looking for the best deal on a domestic or an international airline ticket, experts say there are two key strategies that will help you find the lowest ticket price: Use a price tracker and be flexible.

Price-tracking apps and web tools like Hopper, Google Flights, Kayak and Going have features and settings that will search for flights, monitor prices and let you know when the optimum time is to buy your plane ticket.

If you're flexible, fly mid-week, when prices are usually lower. Or, consider adjusting the settings on your price-tracker tool to "explore" or "anytime." That way, you'll see airfares to a variety of destinations based on just your departure city. Who knows, a cheap plane ticket may end up taking you somewhere you didn't even know you wanted to go.

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