How Far Out Can You Book a Flight?

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Do you like planning way ahead in the future? Does the very thought of having the next few months planned to the bone make you feel relieved and delighted? Then this article is undoubtedly meant for you. 

Booking your flight tickets in advance can be helpful for several reasons. It is easier to go about important tasks when you know your schedule ahead of time. And the sooner you decide on your travel plans, the more money you can save. However, there is a limit on how early you can book your flights. 

So if you’re someone who is sure about their upcoming vacation, read on to find out how far out you can book your flight tickets and make preparations accordingly. 

What You Need to Know About Booking Flights in Advance

With most US airlines, you can book your tickets up to eleven months in advance. This gives you ample time to choose your destination. However, there are some things to keep in mind. 

You need to note that sometimes airlines can open their booking specifically for award bookings. This means that the seats on the plane are available only for people with frequent flier miles or any other travel point that the airline accepts. If you haven’t enrolled for such a service, you may not be able to get an early seat.

If you prefer to travel by low-cost carriers, you can’t book your ticket in advance since they don’t provide such a service. With them, it’s a bit tricky to figure out when their booking window will open.

Here is the summary of when most North American airlines open their windows for booking flight tickets:

  • Air Canada: 354 days in advance
  • Alaska Airlines: 330 days in advance
  • Allegiant Air: Approximately 6-9 months in advance
  • American Airlines: 331 days in advance
  • Avelo Airlines: Approximately 4-5 months in advance
  • Breeze Airways: Approximately seven months in advance
  • Delta Air Lines: 331 days in advance
  • Frontier Airlines: Varies season to season, usually 258 days in advance
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 330 days in advance
  • JetBlue Airways: Approximately 6-10 months in advance. 
  • Southwest Airlines: Approximately 7-8 months in advances.
  • Spirit Airlines: Approximately 330 days in advance
  • Sun Country Airlines: Usually 4-6 months in advance
  • United Airlines: 11 months in advance

JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines always mention when the booking window is going to open on their booking page. However, they generally open within the time period mentioned above. Bookings usually open at midnight, which may vary due to different time zones.

Booking Flights Early and Money

You might have heard the saying, ‘the early bird gets the worm,’ which means the faster you are with your work, the more rewards you will get. However, this doesn’t always apply in the case of airline bookings. 

Most US airlines usually open their booking window approximately 330 days in advance. This is excellent for people who like to plan ahead. However, you would be incorrect to assume that the earlier you book your flight, the more money you’ll save.

Sometimes, booking your tickets too early can end up costing you a lot. Though this is not the case every time. 

Airlines mostly make their tickets available at the best fares no more than six months in advance. However, low-cost carriers even provide discounted fares mere weeks or days in advance. 

What is the Cheapest Time to Book Your Flight Tickets

Here are some key notes to remember if you wish to purchase your tickets at a reasonable rate:

  • Flights are usually most reasonable between three weeks and four months before the date of departure.
  • Holidays and seasonal changes will have an impact on the ticket prices. This will definitely create price fluctuations. 
  • The day you book your ticket does not affect the price of the tickets. The duration certainly matters, but the day you book your ticket truly does not show you a difference in prices.
  • Rewards credit cards could help you earn more miles or points, which you could use for your other flights.

Planning ahead is a good decision, especially for frequent fliers who end up spending a lot of money on tickets. And your miles can only take you so far. These key points will help you understand when to purchase your tickets better.

The Six Booking Zones

Six booking zones have been identified with the help of an extensive analysis. These zones primarily focus on the fair differences. However, they have proven to be quite helpful. The six zones are as follows:

  1. First Come, First Serve: You would be in this zone if you booked your ticket more than 203 days in advance. Here, you will end up paying about $50 more than the period where the airfares are the lowest. However, a few perks in this zone include having more options regarding seating and your itinerary. 
  2. Peace: You would be in this zone if you booked your tickets between 116 to 202 days in advance. Here, tickets cost around $20 more than in the period when the airfares were at their lowest. A tremendous amount of options are left for seats during this period, though.
  3. Prime Booking Window: This is the ideal time to book your tickets if a bargain is what you want. This period lasts 21 to 115 days in advance of your departure. Airfares usually average within 5% of their lowest prices during this time. 
  4. Pushing Your Luck: This zone lies fourteen to twenty days before departure. Fares tend to rise during this period. The middle seats are often sold out by this time. And there might not be a lot of convenient flight options left.
  5. Daredevil’s Zone: This zone lies between seven to three days before your flight’s departure. You would be a real daredevil if you decided to purchase a ticket during this period. Most flight and seat options are gone by now.
  6. Alarming Fares: This zone is six days before your flight’s departure. You should avoid booking tickets during this period unless and until an absolute emergency occurs. The fairs are pretty high now. 

These are the six booking zones. Hopefully, knowing about them will help you understand how far out you should book your tickets.

Flying to the End

Planning ahead is great and knowing how far out you can book your tickets is incredibly helpful. But you should still do your research before you spend more money on airlines than you need to.

Nonetheless, everyone has their own priorities. For some, planning from the very beginning matters. While for some, saving money matters more. 

Read More

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  4. How Early Can You Go Through Airport Security?
  5. Can You Transfer a Plane Ticket to Someone Else?
  6. Can You Buy a Plane Ticket With Cash?
Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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