We're always confused about the best time to get cheap flights, but the folks at CheapAir apparently came up with pricing data, so you don't have to take a stab at guessing.

The airfare-shopping engine crunched data from about four million trips in 2013 and came up with these findings:

  • Best time to buy a domestic ticket: The ideal is 54 days in advance, but anywhere between one month and three-and-a-half months before your departure date is the best time to buy your tickets.
  • Worst time to buy a domestic ticket: Buying last minute, especially two weeks before your trip, is the worst time. The day before you plan to leave is the single worst time to buy a ticket, while two days before was the second worst, and the pricing pattern continues in that vein.

Exceptions to the 54-day rule, aka prime booking time

CheapAir also analyzed when you should book a flight earlier:

  • When you are going to a particular destination during a popular time.
  • If you are going to a popular destination that's in high demand all the time.
  • When you fly to a small airport with limited flights. There is not enough competition to affect the fare prices.
  • When you're booking international flights.

The best time to buy flights to popular domestic locations and international destinations

  • Las Vegas: 81 days in advance
  • Hawaii: 87 days in advance
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix, Orange County, San Diego, West Palm Beach, Pensacola, and Orlando: 75 days in advance
  • Europe: 151 days in advance
  • Asia: 129 days in advance
  • Middle East: 80 days in advance
  • South Pacific: 70 days in advance
  • Caribbean: 101 days in advance
  • Mexico: 89 days in advance
  • Latin America: 80 days in advance