When Exactly to Buy Your Next International Flight, According to a Study of 350 Million Fares
When it comes to airfare, it's all about the timing.
CheapAir.com released the results from its international airfare study on Thursday, and the results could have serious implications for the next time you book a trip out of the country.
By analyzing 350 million airfares to more than 3,000 international markets, CheapAir.com identified the “Prime Booking Window” (the period of time when tickets can typically be purchased within five percent of the lowest possible price) for eight popular regions abroad.
“International flights cost two and a half times more than domestic flights on average,” explained CheapAir.com CEO Jeff Klee in a statement. “So getting the timing right can really pay off.”
For travelers considering a Caribbean getaway, for example, CheapAir.com suggests booking flights 207 days prior to departure. Generally, the most inexpensive tickets will be available in January, after the holidays.
Canadian-bound travelers should book 66 days before departure, and for the best prices (on average, about $427 round-trip) consider heading to the Great White North in October.
Consistent with the domestic airfare study, CheapAir.com pinpointed 70 days out as the best time to book flights to Mexico and Central America. For trips to South America, however, travelers should be prepared to book flights 110 days in advance.
In addition to avoiding travel during the peak summer months (June and July) trips to Europe should be booked 160 days prior to departure.
Travelers looking at taking far-flung trips to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the South Pacific should be prepared to plan far in advance.
The best deals are typically found 120 to 199 days ahead of departure. Flights to Africa and the Middle East should be monitored with extra care, as fares can easily fluctuate by more than $100 — the most of any market included in the review.
Of course, travelers should always set airfare alerts for their specific routes. And for even more guidance, CheapAir.com’s “When to Buy Flights” tool can provide insight on the lowest historical ticket prices and the more broad Prime Booking Window, in addition to the best day to book.