The Best Time To Book A Domestic Flight And Save A Lot Of Money

Booking flights can be an adventure in itself — tip-toeing your way through the maze of ever-shifting airfares in hopes of scoring the best deal. You're right if you feel like the guidelines and advice change from one year to the next. So, it's important to stay informed through resources such as CheapAir, which regularly researches and reports the latest data.

The latest domestic airline travel data, released on March 30, 2022, is broken down into ticket-timing brackets, each with advantages and disadvantages. These timeframes, described as "zones," can be used to time your ticket purchase, depending on your preferences. For example, if seat selection is among your most critical considerations, you'll need to buy your airline ticket much earlier than someone who prioritizes saving money. However, saving money plays a significant role in your domestic travel plans if you're anything like us. Luckily, the best time to book commercial flights is a broader window of time than you might think.

Timing is everything

Airlines start to increase flight costs approximately 21 days before a domestic flight is scheduled, according to CheapAir. So, to avoid the additional expenditure, focus your efforts ahead of that time. If you're looking to save money but are still hoping to take advantage of the early-bird access to seating options, the optimal time to scout out flights is 202 to 128 days in advance, but Travel + Leisure reminds readers that post-pandemic factors may shift some expected patterns a bit. 

But it's also important to consider the recent inflation, increase in fuel costs, and labor shortages that U.S. News and World Report links to recent the recent increase in flight costs. So, now is a particularly crucial time to understand the travel landscape and evaluate what tools might help you decide the best time to purchase airline tickets. Among the folks that travel frequently, Scott's Cheap Flights, Hopper, and Skyscanner are frequent favorites. Just indicate your location and preferred travel dates, and these apps will evaluate fares in real-time so you can be sure you're booking your flights at the best possible time.

The day you travel is equally important

If you count yourself among those for whom saving money is the absolute goal, and you're willing to sit in whatever seat might be available, then 127 to 21 days is your best bet. Of course, there are plenty of theories regarding which day of the week is best to purchase tickets, but the data from CheapAir, which includes analysis of 1 billion flights, indicates that the price only fluctuates by a mere $1, regardless of the day of purchase.

However, the day of the week does, in fact, play a significant role when deciding what day to fly. Mid-week is consistently the cheapest time to fly, with Wednesday beating Tuesday by just a hair. On average, you'll save $57 by booking a Wednesday flight. So, to maximize your commercial flight savings, you should look to book 4 months to 3 weeks in advance and focus your efforts on a Wednesday flight.