Best Time to Buy, Best Time to Fly for Summer

Published by Anne McDermott on July 3, 2023

Cheap summer fares

Want to find cheap vacation airfares? You’ve come to the right place; we’ll show you the best time to buy, best time to fly for summer. TIP: Start looking a bit early; summer is one of the most popular times to fly all year and the cheapest fares are limited in number. Then once you’ve booked your cheap flight, find deals for hotels and rental cars.

Best Time to Buy, Best Time to Fly for Summer

Best time to buy for summer

Don’t buy plane tickets too late or you’ll pay the very high, last-minute prices business travelers do. Instead, purchase tickets in these shopping windows:

  • Domestic: Start shopping 3 ½ months before departure and finished by 2-4* weeks before take-off.
  • International: Between 5 ½ months and 4 weeks before departure.

*How late you can buy depends upon the airline. Discount carriers like Frontier and Spirit don’t usually hike fares until about 10 days to two weeks before departure but larger carriers like American and Delta raise prices about four weeks in advance. However, this can change due to supply and demand; if tickets aren’t selling, they’ll be cheaper longer (and vice versa).

Best time to fly for summer

Avoid flying during peak summer season – late June to late August – because that’s when fares are highest. Cheaper times to fly:

  • May: Fares get more expensive as the month goes on and reach a peak around the Memorial Day holiday (May 25, 2020).
  • June: The first half of the month is a relatively cheap time to fly, compared to prices that kick in June 22, which marks the start of summer’s peak season.
  • August: Fly on or after Aug. 25, when cheaper fall fares start kick-in; it gets even cheaper in September and October.

If you must fly during the peak summer season, these tips can help lower costs:

  • Fly cheapest days: Save money year-round by flying Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for U.S. travel. For international flights, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends.

Other ways to find cheap flights

No matter when you fly, these tips will lower your costs.

Take time to compare: Don’t buy a ticket just because someone says it’s cheap! Go to an airfare comparison search site so you’ll know for certain if it’s the best deal. Or not. When checking U.S. domestic fares, be sure to look at Southwest’s website, too, because it’s the only airline that doesn’t share fare data with comparison sites.

Fly cheaper routes: We all like nonstop flights because they’re convenient but always compare fares for nonstops and connecting flights because routes that include a stop can be up to 50% cheaper. Not always, but often, so be sure to check. Don’t overlook this potential windfall.

Look out for bag fees: Some airlines charge for checked-bags, some airlines charge for all bags, and all airlines charge for oversize and overweight bags. Bottom line: Using a carry-on and packing light will generally save you money.

Where to go this summer

Still not sure where you want to go? Two suggestions:

Check out the Getaway Map: If you haven’t tried out the Getaway Map yet, give it a whirl; it’s an easy way to find deals around the world during months or season you want to fly. The fun part is seeing the prices pop up instantly.

See the list of top destinations: We’ve compiled a list of great cities and beautiful regions within the U.S. and around the globe. All have two things in common: they are cheap from many departure cities and well worth a visit.

Safe travels.

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