The Best Time of Day to Book Your Next Flight

Spoiler alert: There isn't one, but we have another hack to help you save money on your next trip.

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Floating around the Internet are all sorts of tricks and tips for booking the cheapest flight, but we have a bit of bad news — most of them are just urban legends. Sadly, that includes waiting until a specific time of day to book flights.

It might have been true at one point in time, when airlines pushed out price changes at a far slower pace, but in 2023, airline pricing is extremely dynamic. According to a 2023 report by that crunched data for nearly a billion flights, airfare for a flight changes an average of 49 times from the date the flight goes on sale until departure. And it changes by an average of $43 each time. The process is largely controlled by computer software and is increasingly being bolstered by AI, so price changes can happen at any second. That's why there's no specific time of day — or even a specific day of the week, for that matter — that's best for booking cheap flights.

Related: 5 Best Flight Search Engines for Finding the Cheapest Flights 

But that doesn't mean all hope is lost for deal seekers. One way to find cheaper airfare is not to look for flights at a certain time of day, but to look for flights a certain number of days before your flight.

The report suggests a prime booking window of 46 days to 164 days before travel within North America for the lowest prices. Yes, that's a four-month window, which goes to show that flight pricing can change at any time. So before you add a calendar reminder for 164 days before your flight, remember that this suggestion is based on averages. The reality is pricing changes all the time.

The general rule of thumb for timing, however, is that booking flights at the last minute is more expensive than booking at least a few weeks in advance. But there are always exceptions — you might get super lucky and find a bargain on last-minute flights.

For a surefire way to keep prices as low as possible, you're going to have to be flexible about your travel dates. The key is to fly on days that are not as high-demand as others.'s report found Tuesday and Wednesday to be the cheapest days of the week to fly, offering nearly $100 in savings compared to Sunday, the most expensive day to fly. Fridays and Saturdays are also busy, with Friday travel leaning toward business travelers and Saturday leaning toward leisure travelers.

Related: The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel

You should also aim to avoid traveling during peak and holiday seasons when airlines will jack up flight prices to match the high demand. Peak travel varies by destination, but it isn't limited to the weather — keep in mind that special events like music festivals or sporting events can also affect airfare.

All this said, we do have one hack that we'd like to introduce to you to save money on your flight. Most airlines eliminated change and cancellation fees during the pandemic, and many of them made those changes permanent (but basic economy usually does not qualify.) That means you can change your flight at any time if you find a better price. As such, we recommend booking earlier rather than later — as soon as you find a price you're comfortable with. Then you just need to set up price alerts for your flight to see if the price changes before departure. 

There is a bit of a caveat here — you may not get a refund for the price difference. Instead, you might end up with an airline e-credit. It all depends on your airline's overall policy as well as the specific rules associated with your ticket's fare class. So if you do plan on using this hack, make sure you'd be okay with receiving an e-credit rather than a refund. If you're a frequent traveler, we're sure you'll find a way to spend it.

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