Booking flights in advance is a great way to save money. The longer you wait typically aligns with how much you pay; with prices going up the closer to your departure you book. But, book too far in advance, and you’ll be paying more as well. That’s why you have to find that sweet spot of dates that gets you those cheap flights.
I’ll share with you what I typically go by and how early I like to buy plane tickets.
As with everything related to planning out a trip, the earlier the better. That’s why I am a big proprietor for planning trips way ahead of time. When I say planning, I do not mean booking. I just mean getting a set idea of when I’d like to fly.
For example: When I went to Dubai; that is a trip we talked about, planned, and budgeted for over a year in advance. We ended up buying our tickets 3 months before we left.
Having a good idea of when you want to fly out will make your life much easier, and will easily save you hundreds. One of the best tricks I know, which a lot of people don’t do, is to use sites like Google Flights to figure out when the cheapest time to fly is.
I know many people that just say “We are going on vacation the first week in July.” Then, when I ask why, they usually say “Well, that’s just what works best for us.”
And that’s fair, I know life happens and it isn’t always possible to be flexible with your schedule. But, moving your trip up or back a few weeks could greatly decrease the amount you spend on airline tickets. That’s why planning is so important; when you think ahead, and get specific dates down at least two months in advance, you can save yourself a lot of money.
So, what do I do? I try to book my flights around two to four months out. At the very, very least I book my flights a month and a half out. That two to four month range will allow you to properly coordinate with your work to ensure you have those scheduled days off.
It also allows you to arrange things like pet boarding, house sitting, or any other service or task you need lined up. Not to mention the best deals are in this time period.
You can’t just ask your friend to dog sit for you, and when they ask when, say “Sometime in July, probably.” Don’t be that guy. Now your friend has to clear his or her schedule for the entire month, just to accommodate to you. Have some courtesy and say “We will need you to dog sit between July 10th and 15th.” That way, your friend can still properly plan their own lives, and won’t have to stress about when to be available.
Different airlines have different schedules for which they allow you to book flights. From what I have been able to gather, the booking lead time varies by airline, and in some cases, destination. Some airlines even pushing or surpassing the one year mark.
Alaska Air is one of the airlines that allows you to book almost a year in advance. From their website, you can book up to 330 days in advance. Granted, the 330 day mark will most likely be your return date since you can’t go past that day.
Either way, if you are the kind of person that likes booking flights light years earlier than everyone, then just know you have to wait until that 330 day mark comes around.
Allegiant Air is tough to give you one solid, accurate number. They vary based on where you are flying out of and into.
For example: Flying from San Antonio to Orlando, you can only book 35 days in advance. However, flying from Orlando to Memphis, you can book your flight up to 217 days in advance.
So it is tough, but 35 days is the lowest amount of time I could find by using their flight booker.
American Airlines just barely edged out Alaska Air in this category. They just had to be petty and offer flights one extra day in advance.
Their 331 day lead time for flights allows you to book way in advance, if that’s what you’re into.
I think we are seeing a pattern here. Delta allows you to book up to 331 days in advance, joining the ranks of American Airlines. I wonder if any other airlines will top these two. Find out next week on Float Freely!
Like Allegiant, Frontier offers different schedules and lead times depending on where you are flying out of and where you are flying into.
The shortest lead time I found was 127 days, however there may be shorter ones considering how many options there are with Frontier. The longest I found was 247 days.
Darn, they just missed tying for first with Delta and American, however they are right there with Alaska Air.
You can book a roundtrip flight with Hawaiian Airlines up to 330 days out.
These are always the hardest to research, the ones that vary depending on what airports you’ll be using.
From what I can tell, you’ll be looking at around a 220 day lead time with JetBlue.
Southwest allows you to book your flights around 6 months in advance.
One thing to mention, just because you can book hundreds of days in advance doesn’t mean you should. Booking too far in advance may end up costing you more than if you were to wait until the two to four month period.
Spirit Airlines comes in with a huge victory over both American Airlines and Delta Airlines! At least in this category. You can book up to a year in advance with Spirit Air, which is the longest lead time I have been able to find out of any airline.
United Airlines sneaks in at the last second to claim the number two spot on the longest lead times of the big airline companies in the United States. United allows you to book your flights up to 337 days in advance.
No matter what airline you go with, you’ll have plenty of time to book your flights and save money.
Even with some airlines only having about a month of lead time, you’ll still be able to find a spot on the flight for a great price.
Remember, just because you can book months and months in advance, doesn’t mean you should. That sweet spot of two to four months is what you should be aiming for.
Subscribe below to never miss a post! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.
Also, check out our blog for more amazing posts like this one!
You should also check out these posts.
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.