The Cheapest Time to Buy Airline Tickets for a Summer Vacation

If you’re a remotely savvy traveler, you understand the flurry of flash sales and budget hacks that can get you on board flights without going broke. But seasonal fluctuations are a very real thing in the airline industry, so it’s worth knowing when exactly to home in on that discounted airfare with an expert’s precision.’s Annual Airfare Study can help you do exactly that. It offers insights as to when you should book a flight during certain times of year, based off scrupulous research. Combing through 921 million different airfares(!), the study concludes that the lowest airfare for a given trip changes 71 times, or just about every 4 ½ days throughout its lifespan. 

But when should you book that big trip for summer? After all, the majority of Americans enjoy a relaxing sojourn in the months of July, August, June, and September -- in exactly that order. According to Cheap Air, the ideal time to book a summer vacay is 76 days, or 2.5 months in advance of the trip. Or, as the study tells it:

“Prime Booking Window is 21 – 140 days from travel. In this pricey season, one positive is that the Prime Booking Window starts earlier than in other seasons and you can still get good fares later in the season if you are willing to be flexible with airlines, flight times and number of connections.”

What’s more, Cheap Air even lists the cheapest dates per month in its summer airfare calendar, and they are as follows:

  • June 6, June 14 and June 20
  • July 4, July 9, and July 19
  • August 22, August 23 and August 26
  • September 12

It’s worth noting that fluctuation varies widely in this window, as the “difference between the best and worst priced days is a whopping $250!” the study notes. Still, relying on stable intel is far better than waiting for some fleeting deal to crop up before it quickly disappears. 

[h/t Conde Nast Traveler]

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.