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The cheapest times to fly for Australians

Find out the times, days and months to book so you get more bang for your buck.

Cheap travel isn’t hard to come by if you know when and where to look – and when you’re open to keeping your itinerary flexible.

Booking on and for certain dates in the week, for example, could be all you need to do to shave a couple of bucks off your holiday expenses.

Book in advance or fly during the off season and you could save a even more than a couple of bucks… to spend when you’re away, obviously.

HOT TIP: If you can, tick the "flexible dates" option when searching for flights. This way you can see if flying a day before or after could be cheaper than flying on your nominated date.

Planning a trip soon? Here’s when you should fly to nab a cheap as chips flight:


When to fly in the day

Generally speaking, early morning flights, lunch time flights or late night flights are the cheapest. This is quite possibly because of the lack of transport that some airports offer at these times.

As well as getting a cheap ticket for an early morning flight, if you’re flying locally you could also arrive in your destination earlier, meaning you have more time to explore on your first day. The negative – and possibly another reason why these flights are cheaper – is that if you’re flying further, you’ll likely spend the day in the air.

Meanwhile, the most expensive flights in the day are in the evening between 5pm and 9pm. This timeframe means you can sleep on the plane and won’t have to take the day off work to fly.

To give you an example of how flight prices change throughout the day, this graph is based on airfares for domestic carriers travelling Sydney to Melbourne on Wednesday 6 July 2016. Prices are accurate at the time of writing and times used were taken to the nearest 15 minutes:


When to fly in the week

The best times to fly fall during the working week - particularly on Tuesday or Wednesday. Prices peak on Friday evening and Sunday evening or Monday morning for those looking to go on a weekend getaway without having to cash in their annual leave. If you’ve got the leave to spare or some time in lieu, try and fly out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, as they’re the least popular days due to them being in the middle of the working week. Saturday is also an option as it’s in the middle of the weekend. Here’s a look at how flight prices change during the week on domestic carriers. The prices used are the lowest prices on each carrier for the week of 3-9 July 2016 flying Sydney to Melbourne.


When to fly in the year

Generally, wherever you’re eyeing the best time to fly to it is during your destination’s off-peak season. This could mean during the monsoon season if you’re headed to Asia, or during winter if you’re headed to an island resort.

If those options don’t appeal to you, work with shoulder seasons (the time just before or after peak season). Sometimes you can get lucky weather-wise and the prices will not be as high as if you flew in during the peak.

Peak season tends to fall during the school holidays, Christmas holidays, days of significance (e.g. Chinese New Year) or snow season (if it’s a popular skiing destination).

Below is a snapshot of the cheapest months to fly to some of the most popular destinations for Australian travellers. Destinations are chosen from ABS data on Australian departures for April 2016. Flight prices have been gathered through Skyscanner by choosing the “cheapest month” option for departures from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The cheapest months to fly to set destinations:

BaliQueenstownAucklandLos AngelesBangkokPhuketLondonTokyoSingaporeNadi (Fiji)Hong Kong
JanuaryYes
FebruaryYesYes
MarchYesYesYesYes
AprilYesYesYes
MayYesYes
June
JulyYesYes
AugustYesYesYesYesYesYes
SeptemberYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
OctoberYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
NovemberYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
DecemberYes

When to book for cheap flights

Timing is everything and when it comes to the booking cheap flights there are times that work better than others. According to Skyscanner, generally, the earlier you book the more you'll save though booking approximately 17 weeks prior to departure can save you up to 5% off flights on many international departures. Some exceptions to this rule include closer destinations like New Zealand and Singapore which you can still get cheaply up to 11 weeks in advance.

A similar pattern follows for domestic flights. Book 15-17 weeks in advance for long-haul domestic (e.g. Sydney to Perth) and you can save up to 25%. Book 5-11 weeks on shorter haul flights (e.g. Sydney to Brisbane or Melbourne to Brisbane) and again, you're looking to save up to 25% off.

As to what day is best to book flights Business Insider suggests the weekends or Tuesday. This is because most business travellers book their weekend trips during the week so weekends are opened up to leisure travellers searching for cheap flights. It's also worth it to keep on top of regular sale periods for specific carriers such as Virgin Australia Happy Hour, Wotif Flyday and Jetstar Friday Frenzy.



Searching for cheap flights?

These are the sales and deals helping you go on that holiday sooner.

Flights to Delhi from $443 return: AirAsia

Book return flights to Delhi, India from $443 with AirAsia at I Want That Flight. Valid for travel in March to May 2017. Conditions apply.

Flights to Beijing from $583 return: Cathay Pacific

Book return flights to Beijing from $583 with Cathay Pacific at I Want That Flight. Valid for travel between 16 February to 04 June and 13 July to 30 November.

Flights to London from $1279 return: Singapore Airlines

Book economy return flights from $1279 with Singapore Airlines at Helloworld. Valid for travel between 27 January to 31 March.

Fly to Finland from $1,037

Book cheap flights to Finland from $1,037 per person.

Italy from $889 return

Valid on flights to Milan, Rome, Venice from 1-31 March and 1-31 May. Sample fares include Melbourne or Sydney to Milan for $889-$899, Melbourne, Sydney or Perth to Rome for $899-$949.

Flights from $848 return: USA Sale

Sample fares include Sydney to Honolulu from $848 economy return, Melbourne to Honolulu from $884 economy return and more. Valid for travel between 23 January to 05 April. Conditions apply.

Europe from $1155 return: Qatar Airways Travel Festival

Valid for travel from 11 January until 15 December. Europe destinations include London, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, Rome, Manchester, Pisa, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Dublin.Conditions apply.

All flights discounted: 96 Hour Sale

Book now and get all flights discounted with Qantas, China Southern and Malaysian Airlines at BYOJet. Valid for a limited time only. T&Cs apply.

Save up to $948: The Flaming Deal Packages

Book now and save up to $948 on flights and hotels at Wotif. T&Cs apply.

Flights from $79: New Year Domestic Sale

Sample fares includes Launceston from $79 one-way, Canberra from $115 one-way and more. Valid for travel between 27 February to 30 November. T&Cs apply.

$10 off flights to Salt Lake City

Get $10 off your flights to Salt Lake City at CheapAir. Conditions apply.

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Flights to London from $1098 return: Cathay Pacific

Valid on flights to England between February and May from Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane or Sydney.

Flights to Paris from $1044 return: Cathay Pacific

Valid on flights to France in April and May with Cathay Pacific.

Flights to Rome from $1003 return: Cathay Pacific

Book return flights to Rome from $1003 with Cathay Pacific at I Want That Flight. Valid on travel between 16February to 4 June and 13 July to 30 November. T&Cs apply.

Flights from $515: Chinese New Year flight deals

Celebrate Chinese New Year with these hot flight deals. Fly to Hong Kong from $515 return, fly to Phuket from $682 return, fly to the Seoul from $672 return, fly to Delhi from $786 return, fly to Kuala Lumpur from $639 return. Flights are from Australia. T&Cs apply.

Europe flights on sale from $873 return

Valid on flights from 1-31 March and 1-31 May. Destinations include Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands and the UK. Sample fare of $873 available for Melbourne-Stockholm.

Europe from $1154 return

Valid on flights from 1 February until 31 March, 22 April until 31 May and 1 October until 30 November. Sample fares include Perth to Dublin for $1154, Melbourne to Dublin for $1164, Brisbane to Milan for $1219 and Sydney to Edinburgh for $1307. Other destinations include Munich, Manchester, Frankfurt, London.

Fly Qantas to South America from $1155 return

Book flights from Qantas to South America from $1155 return at STA Travel. T&Cs apply.

USA flights from $764 return

Valid select dates from February until June. Fares from Sydney include Las Vegas from $764, Atlanta or Seattle from $767 return and Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City from $768 return.

Flights to Sri Lanka from $386 return: AirAsia

Book return flights to Sri Lanka from $386 with AirAsia at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in May to February 2018. Conditions apply.

Flights to India from $326 return: AirAsia

Book return flights to India from $326 with AirAsia at I Want That Flight. Valid on travel between May to February 2018. Conditions apply.

Qantas flights to Europe from $1290 return

Valid on flights to Europe from 16 January - 30 November. Sample destinations include Milan, Rome, Athens, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and London.

$20 off one-way Air Canada student fares from Australia

Get $20 off one-way Air Canada student fares from Australia at STA Travel. T&Cs apply.

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$25 off select Qatar Airways flights

Get $25 off select Qatar Airways flights at STA Travel. Conditions apply.

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$20 off select China Southern airfares

Get $20 off select China Southern airfares at STA Travel. T&Cs apply.

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Flights to Honolulu from $518 return: Jetstar

Book return flights to Honolulu from $518 with Jetstar at I Want That Flight. Valid on select dates in March to June, July to September and October to November. Conditions apply.

Fly to Europe from $1299 economy return

Valid from 20 January to 13 December. Sample fare includes Perth-Milan for $1299, Melbourne-Milan for $1369, Sydney-Milan or Brisbane-Milan for $1379

Fly FREE or get 10% off USA & Canada trips

Available for travel between 10 January to 07 December. Valid on selected trips from the USA & Canada. T&Cs apply.

$60 off return flights with China Southern

Simply use the code to get $60 off China Southern international return flights. Offer is valid per booking, available for travel anytime and valid for departures from Australia, international return. T&Cs apply.

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$99 Jetstar international flight sale

Valid select dates from February until November to destinations like Asia, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Sample fares include Bali for $99 return, New Zealand from $129 return and Hawaii from $259 return.

Return flights to Greece from $774

Valid on flights to Athens in August. Perth for $774, Sydney for $884, Melbourne for $945 and Gold Coast from $994.

Flights to Beijing from $313 Return on China Southern Airlines

Only $313 for Return Flights to Beijing, China from Melbourne. We make sure you get the best price at I Want That Flight. Conditions apply.

Flights to USA from $897 return

Valid select dates in April and May including Perth to San Francisco for $897 return, Darwin to San Francisco for $908 return, Perth to New York for $1035 return, Perth to Los Angeles for $1050 and Perth to Washington for $1059 return.

Asia & USA flights under $999

Sample fares include Auckland from $402, Bali from $562, Beijing from $420, Los Angeles $896 and more. Conditions apply.

$20 off International flights

Book now and get $20 off International flights at Skiddoo. T&Cs apply.

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Fly to Kuala Lumpur from $232 return

Valid select dates in February and March. Depart Perth from $232, Melbourne from $336, Sydney from $373 and Gold Coast from $381.

Premium Economy on Air NZ: $2399 rtn to Los Angeles

Book return Premium Economy flights to USA from $2399 with Air New Zealand at Helloworld. Valid on departure dates between 01 March to 30 November. Conditions apply.

Global Sale: Europe from $1289 return

Valid on select dates January until November. Sample fares include Perth to Amsterdam for $1289, Adelaide to Amsterdam for $1289, Melbourne to Amsterdam for $1359 and Sydney to Amsterdam for $1369. Other Europe flights available. Flights to Southeast Asia and New Zealand also on sale.

$25 flight voucher

Get $25 flight voucher on any international flight at Skiddoo. Conditions apply.

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Flights to USA from $771 return

Sample fares include Brisbane to Honolulu from $771 for travel on 19 January to 11 Mar 2017, 25 April to 03 June 2017 and 22 July to 19 August 2017, Sydney to Honolulu from $772 for travel on 20 January to 10 March 2017, 25 April to 02 June 2017 and 23 July to 20 August 2017. T&Cs apply.

London from $996 return

Valid select dates between January and June. Sample fares include Melbourne from $996, Perth from $1089, Adelaide from $1095, Sydney from $1159, Brisbane from $1199.

$25 off any international flight

Get $25 off any international flight at Skiddoo.Conditions apply

Up to $200 off flights to the Americas

Valid on select Air New Zealand flights booked with Flight Centre before 30 January to destinations including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Vancouver or Buenos Aires.

Flights from Sydney to Bangkok from $889 return

Valid for travel between 10 January to 15 June, 05 July to 17 August and 03 September to 30 November. T&Cs apply.

Fly to Los Angeles from $854 return

Valid for travel between 02 May - 24 May 2017. Book return flight to Los Angeles from $854 with China Southern at BYOJet. T&Cs apply.

Fly to Paris from $999 return

Valid for travel between 02 May - 22 Jun 2017. Sample fares includes Melbourne to Paris $999, Brisbane to Paris $1097. T&Cs apply.

Flights to Edinburgh from $1609 return

Available for travel from Sydney in March 2017.

Fly to Guangzhou from $801 return

Valid for travel on 15 Feb - 23 Mar 2017, 17 Apr - 25 Jun 2017 and 11 Jul - 19 Sep 2017. Book return flight to Guangzhou from $801 with China Southerns at BYOJet. T&Cs apply.

Flights to London from $1502 return

Valid for travel from Sydney in February 2017.

10% off freedom and business class fares

Valid on flights departing before August 2017. Valid on freedom or business class flights within Australia and to the South Pacific, Asia and Middle East.

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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