How Far Out Can You Book A Flight?

How Far Out Can You Book A Flight

A well-deserved air journey becomes more enjoyable when you’ve planned far in advance. In this blog, we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled an all-inclusive guide that explores how far out can you book a flight, along with the advance flight booking benefits and airline pricing criteria.

How Far Out Can You Book A Flight?

Generally speaking, the airline booking period lasts for about 11 months. So, you can usually book a flight up to 330 to 354 days advance in advance. The advance booking time window for international flights is longer than the time window for domestic flights. 

We often wonder how far in advance you can buy tickets using cash or miles. However, in reality, each airline has its own rules. 

However, several things can change that. You should be aware that advance booking periods can change based on a variety of factors, such as whether you want to pay cash for your ticket or use miles and points instead.

Award tickets for airlines become available around the same time as the other flight tickets you may buy. But, since there are so few award tickets available on any particular flight, if you wait too long you may miss out on the dates you desire. 

So, when searching for airline tickets, there is a sweet spot that customers should aim for. The sweet spot is the window of time when airlines are driven to move tickets off the lot more rapidly, thereby giving you — the buyer — the advantage.

So, how many months in advance should you book a flight?

This is with regards to seat availability on your desired dates. The best time to book an international trip would be 2 to 8 months in advance of your trip. Likewise, the best time to book domestic flights would be between one and three months before departure.

But, if you’re traveling during peak season or a major festival, consider booking your international flights and domestic flights more than 8 months and 3 months before departure respectively.

Below is a tabular summary of how far out (how far in advance) you can book a flight on different airlines:

Airline Name How Far In Advance You Can Book A Flight
American Airlines 331 days
Southwest Airlines 180 days
Delta Airlines 331 days
United Airlines 330 days
Frontier Airlines 258 days
JetBlue 331 days
Allegiant Air Varies. Usually between 6 to 9 months or 180 days to 270 days in advance
Alaska Airlines 331 days
Spirit Airlines 330 days

Why Should You Book International And Domestic Flights In Advance?

The days ahead of the journey are when prices jump drastically, taking advantage of any last-minute travelers who have no alternative but to pay up. Thus, you should book your tickets for international flights and domestic flights well in advance.

This is perhaps a frequent occurrence. You’re eager to book flights but reason, “Oh, I have plenty of time. Later, I’ll make the reservations.” However, that “later” turns into days, further turning into weeks. 

And, before you know it, you’re racing at the last minute to find a cheaper flight, trying to avoid the red-eye flights and flights with two or more stops.

Besides the higher probability of getting cheaper tickets, choosing the best time to book your flights comes with a slew of other benefits. Read on to explore more.

Grab The Best Deal

Popular cities can fill up quickly, much like a fine restaurant. It;s becoming simpler to choose how much ahead of your departure you should book domestic flights and international flights, thanks to some online travel websites, such as Skyscanner. This will give you a better idea of the ideal time to book your flight. 

Flight tickets are typically snapped up for flights to more well-known locations and smaller cities. 

Set a price alert for the flights you desire and search for ones that have lower cancellation fees. In this approach, you may keep an eye on prices and, if you see a big drop, cancel your previous flight reservation and book a cheaper one. 

Or, since you have your tickets reserved, you won’t be affected if actual price increases for flights occur.

Figure Out The Best Deal

When you wait to book your flight and discover that the cost has increased by hundreds of dollars, how do you feel? It feels like kicking yourself, ugh. Thus, plan ahead to avoid experiencing that sinking sensation. 

You may keep track of flight rates. This way, you can set a flight price alert to stay updated of any increase or decrease. However, always make a reservation if you believe you have found a fantastic offer. 

You can determine what a “good deal” really is by using the filters on travel search engines like Kayak and Expedia to find flights from your home airport to your desired location.

Play With Your Travel Plan

When you book flights early on, you have more time to plan the subsequent activities once you get to your destination. You’ll have a precise idea of your arrival time in the city, the travel time to get to your hotel, and the location of your hotel in relation to your final destination because of booking flights in advance. 

You can utilize travel websites such as Thomas Cook to begin planning your trip. Alternatively, you can manually plan subsequent activities and add events to your itinerary, such as bookings for restaurants, wine hunting, concerts, sanctuaries, museums, and so on. 

Enjoy The Pre-Travel Feels

That thrill of preparation for a journey? Actually, it improves your health. According to studies, looking forward to a vacation can boost your mood and make you happier overall. 

According to research, trips give you a mental boost, especially in the days before you leave. Moreover, thinking back on vacations has a psychologically uplifting effect.

So don’t wait to feel happy. The best time to book your flights is as soon as you can. Dopamine can be released even by something as simple as a weekend getaway.

Ready From The Kickoff

Along with the excitement you have for your air travel, preparing your trip properly in advance ensures that other activities will work well. When you know you’ll be in Mexico in a few weeks, you’re more inclined to buckle down and finish that major job project before you leave. 

Or, you’ll even have time to make plans for pet and house sitting, notify your credit and debit card providers that you’ll be in a different place, and notify loved ones of your whereabouts.

The odds of forgetting important documents at home or needing to “check-in” on projects while you’re on your trip increase when flight bookings are done at the last minute. Also, you won’t be well equipped to handle minor setbacks while you’re traveling. 

Choosing the best time to book your domestic or international trip ensures peace of mind and enables you to prepare for the excursion. 

Now if you try to book your flight tickets far in advance, it’s possible that you logged onto the internet for hours to look up airline offers and try to make sense of the seemingly random way that airfare prices are determined.

To make things easier for you, let’s understand how the airlines price their flight tickets.

How Do Airlines Price Tickets?

The price of your ticket consists of a number of things, such as base fare, taxes and airport fees, fuel surcharge, the service fee to issue food, and seat selection baggage. Airlines price their tickets through airline revenue management.

So, what seems random — prices fluctuating without reason and longer flights not always being more expensive than shorter ones — is actually airlines’ dynamic pricing. 

There are numerous factors that airlines use to determine their ticket prices, focused more specifically on demand and availability. A few of them are as follows:

Type Of Aircraft And Class

Classes in Flights

Credit: Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash 

The type of aircraft an airline will employ for a journey determines how many seats are available in each travel class. Furthermore, booking classes refer to the kind of ticket, whereas travel classes describe the quality of the class (First, Business, Premium Economy, or Economy).

Each booking class, also known as a fare class or fare bucket, has its own set of guidelines and limitations. Some tickets can only be booked if your travel is more than 14 days away or only on weekdays, and sometimes you earn additional frequent flier points while changing or refunding a ticket (or none at all).

Based on these variables, there are various prices for each booking class. Additionally, even though Economy may have 100 seats, there may only be 10 seats available in each of the three fare categories.

Customer Profiling

In order to assist them to alter prices, airlines also profile their clients. This entails classifying travelers into the leisure or business categories. The pricing for each category is extremely diverse.

Since leisure travelers frequently make flight ticket bookings months in advance, airlines usually price these tickets quite high. The ticket prices are then modified in response to market activity — the demand.

On the other hand, business travelers usually make last-minute flight bookings. For that reason, airlines initially set cheap pricing for popular business routes in order to meet a minimal capacity before sharply raising prices.

Demand

Flight ticket prices change due to seat availability and demand. The cheaper booking classes might be sold out even if there’s still 3 months before you leave.

There are some dates of the year where there is simply higher demand. When a lot of people have to fly somewhere and even more when they want to go to the same destination or area, airlines will set their prices at a higher level. 

Technology

The comprehensive cost of a ticket — including taxes and fuel — is not the only factor considered when determining ticket prices. Instead, the price you see online is determined by technology.

To compete with low-cost, low-service carriers, some airlines have developed a “basic economy rate” with few frills. This is so that full-service carriers can show up on the front page of search engines like Google Flights because of the reduced rates.

Once you have an idea of how airlines price their flight tickets, it may be a lot of fun to search for flights, especially when you find a fantastic offer. 

However, it can be annoying at times. You spend hours browsing various air travel booking websites, but there are no cheaper prices to be found. Instead, you notice exorbitant prices, or you recall that a friend had booked tickets for the same flight for a lot cheaper.

So, is there a right time to book your flight tickets? Do you have to time your flight ticket bookings to get cheaper tickets? Does booking your flight tickets way too early saves you money? Let’s dive in and get to it.

Does Booking Flights Far In Advance Save You Money?

Booking your flight tickets long in advance is the only surefire strategy to receive lower flight ticket prices. The greatest approach to increase the probability of getting cheap airfare has always been to book early, regardless of the discounts or bargains that are available.

You must be wondering if booking your flight far in advance might help you save money on your travel tickets. There is no specific response to this question.

The question has been a subject of discussion for a decade or so. But, as we go on, we’ll get to it.

But…

Contrary to popular opinion, late reservations for flights have sometimes led to lower prices. It has been seen that purchasing a flight three weeks prior to travel typically results in a lower price than purchasing a flight six months in advance. 

Even this, though, is not necessary. In some circumstances, flight prices can change daily or even hourly. Many times, flight prices change when there is a severe surge in the demand for a particular route. 

So, sometimes flights get cheaper while traveling closer to the departure date and in some cases, it gets expensive.

More precisely, with regards to reasonable prices, between four months and three weeks before your departure date, flights typically come at the lowest fares. However, weekends, festivals, and seasonal changes can all affect ticket rates.

Airlines have been altering the rules of the game, such as introducing basic economy seats and unbundling fares. Thus, travelers need to be a little more in control of their flight tickets’ prices.

Even while the best deal might appear at any time, it’s important to keep an eye on the calendar to see how far in advance the airlines open up the bookings for a journey.

Considering all these ins and outs of airfares, or say, cheap airfares, travelers need to be familiar with a few things to get the best deal. Being aware of how far out they can book their flights can in this case.

How Many Months In Advance Can You Book A Flight?

“How many months in advance can you book a flight?” is a common question. Although each airline has its own set of regulations, the booking period for airlines usually lasts roughly 11 months.

Can You Book Flights 1 Year In Advance?

Calendar Image

Credit: Photo by Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash 

Although the booking window for flight tickets varies with each airline, most airlines allow booking 354 days or nearly 330 days in advance of your journey. So yes, you can book flights one year in advance.

Airlines usually release the first batch of award flights when the booking window opens and, sometimes, the last batch a few days before the flight’s departure. 

Furthermore, they don’t really have much intention left to keep releasing more free seats. They want consumers to pay for their travel trip rather than use points.

Thus, the moment the window opens or right before departure can be the best time to book award flight tickets.

However, practically speaking, there is no need to lock in your flight tickets so far in advance, even though airline timetables are often publicized around a year in advance.

One reason is that airlines often save the announcement of more expensive rates once the flight booking window opens. They do so in the hopes of persuading some eager travelers to book flights at higher prices.

Secondly, flight tickets have rigorous cancellation rules. They normally aren’t allowed to be canceled one year after being issued. Also, the value of their ticket may only be used once during its cancellation duration, which may be just a few days after their originally scheduled departure.

This is a challenge for travelers who make advanced flight bookings but later need to postpone or cancel their trips. 

Last but not least, as much as we would like to prepare a year ahead, the truth is that we have no idea what will transpire in the future. The most accurate example would be the coronavirus outbreak, which altered the course of history.

Can You Book A Flight More Than A Year In Advance?

In normal circumstances, you cannot book your flight tickets more than a year in advance. But, you can book your flights about a year in advance. Nonetheless, you can always plan your air travel or the itinerary before more than a year.

So, whenever the flight schedules of airlines go on sale, you can get an estimate of how much your flight tickets would cost after 12 months. Accordingly, you can plan your journey. But, also consider weekends, peak seasons and festivals as they alter the normal course of flight ticket demand.

However, during the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a few airlines allowing travelers to book flight tickets more than a year in advance. This happened because most travelers were planning their air travels once the government authorities lifted the travel restrictions.

Can You Book A Flight 6 Months In Advance?

Since airlines open their flight booking windows between 330 to 362 days in advance to the departure, you can book your flight tickets 6 months in advance. There is a possibility that you may find cheaper airfares when you book a flight six months in advance.

You should book international flights around six months in advance. In comparison to domestic flights, you should give yourself more time to conduct research.

To get the best deal when you book international flights is to keep an eye on the prices and trends around 10 months prior to the trips. Do they move upward or downward? You’ll have a better idea of how the price landscape will evolve as the six-month point approaches. 

You might have to hold off on booking the flight a little longer if prices keep dropping.

Furthermore, it is better to book your flight at least four months in advance if you need to travel on the Sunday following Thanksgiving or a few days before Christmas. 

Comparing prices at least six to nine months in advance is advised, and you should aim to make a reservation around the six-month mark.

Can You Book Flights For 2023?

Considering that airlines allow advance flight bookings 330 to 362 days prior to the flight’s departure, you can book your flight tickets for 2023. Note that you can book your flight tickets for 2023 only if your desired travel dates fall 331 days to 362 days later than the current date.

As mentioned above, the duration of the booking window varies from airline to airline. So, before you plan your travel, check flight booking websites like Expedia, Skyscanner, and Kayak or your preferred airline’s official website to get a more accurate idea of the booking window. 

How Late Can You Book A Flight?

Clock showing time signifying being late

Credit: Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash 

You can usually book a domestic flight as late as two hours before the scheduled departure of the flight. For international flights, you can book a seat as late as up to four hours before the departure of the flight.

It’s common for prices to increase in the two weeks before a trip. Thus, last-minute flight bookings are often not advised.

But, sometimes, last-minute flight bookings result in a cheaper price, reward tickets, or premium seats. Quite rarely though, you may get a truly good deal during the last moment than if you had bought earlier.

But, isn’t this contrary to popular belief? How come flight tickets get cheaper at the last moment?

Well, at times, a day or two prior to departure, only the most expensive fare classes are normally left. Also, airlines may have a large number of unsold seats in the case of award travel. 

If that happens, instead of reducing the price of the ticket, they’ll often merely give out more rewards in order to attract more travelers, all without reducing the paid fares.

The Bottomline On Advance Flight Bookings

  • You can often reserve cash tickets up to 11 months in advance with most airlines.
  • For award reservations, several airlines may provide earlier check-in for flights.
  • Long-term flight planning won’t always result in cost savings.
  • Airline reservation timing is not a precise science. There is no set formula, and the guidance is always shifting.
  • Plan to make your flight bookings between one and four months in advance for domestic flights.
  • If you’re considering international flights, add a few more months to book flights.

Booking flights approximately a year in advance, days before departure, or just a week or so before your flight makes sense.

FAQs

Should I Book A Flight 3 Months In Advance?

Yes, you should book your flight 3 months in advance more specifically to get cheaper tickets. This would be the best time to book a domestic flight. Whereas, you should book your international trip tickets more than 2 months in advance. 

Is It Cheaper To Book Flights A Year In Advance? 

Flights are normally the least expensive between four months to three weeks before your departure date. But, note that weekends, festivals, and seasonal changes can all have an impact on ticket prices. Flight prices usually go up during festivals and weekends.

How Many Weeks In Advance Should I Book A Flight? 

You should book your domestic flight 4 to thirteen weeks in advance while an international flight is at least 9 to 35 weeks in advance. This allows you to plan your itinerary accordingly. It also gives you the chance to grab the cheapest airfares.

Is 7 Months Too Early To Book A Flight? 

Practically speaking, 7 months is too early to book a domestic flight, but 7 months is an appropriate duration to book an international flight. Also, consider peak seasons, festivals or holidays falling on your desired date of travel. Accordingly, book your flight tickets well in advance.

Is 3 Months Too Early To Book A Flight? 

Three months is neither too early to book a domestic flight nor an international flight. You can book your flight tickets at least four months to three months in advance. Moreover, take into account any festivals or holidays that fall on the day you want to travel.

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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