Booking a flight, in my opinion, can be one of the most stressful part of planning a vacation. Constantly debating if you should book now or later and wondering if prices will go down or up if you wait is my least favorite guessing game. Luckily, there are researched tips and tricks to take into consideration to make booking flights as stress-free (and cheap) as possible.
Qtrip's annual airfare study was just released, and it surveyed over 900 million airfares to domestic US destinations to find the perfect sweet spot to book your dream vacation in 2020. According to the study, the prime booking window falls anywhere from 21 to 127 days in advance. Flights in this time frame are ideal for anyone searching for the best deal, but if you're looking for more customization in your itinerary (such as being able to select where you'd like to sit), the "first dibs" time slot is your best bet. This means you should ideally book anywhere from 203 to 315 days (or 7 to 11 months) ahead of your departure date. And while you may end up paying a little bit more when booking so far ahead, you definitely won't get stuck in the middle seat!
Booking a flight less than three weeks in advance becomes expensive because you have limited options, and only gets worse the longer you wait (a last-minute ticket could cost up to $200 more if you're trying to book less than a week out!). Of course, emergencies can cause people to book just a few days before their flight, but if you have the time to plan, purchasing your ticket within the prime booking window will save you a pretty penny.
The season you're planning to travel in also plays a role in when you should buy a plane ticket, with the beginning of Fall and the first couple weeks of December being great times to get away at a lower price point. Qtrip recommends booking 49 days in advance for Winter trips, 85 days ahead for Spring trips, 113 days in advance for Summer trips, and 77 days out for Fall trips.
Oh, and about that old rumor — that the day of the week you purchase your flight doesn't play a role in the price but the day you take off does? There's actually some truth to that! Qtrip's study revealed the best days of the week to fly out on are usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Happy booking!