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:
|Bali||Queenstown||Auckland||Los Angeles||Bangkok||Phuket||London||Tokyo||Singapore||Nadi (Fiji)||Hong Kong|
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.
Jetstar Domestic Sale. Eg Melb (Av) to Hobart $29. Sydney to Melb $49, Bris to Sydney $49 + more
Jetstar domestic sale. eg Melb (Av) to Hobart $29. Sydney to Melb $49, Bris to Sydney $49 plus more at I Want That Flight. Conditions Apply
Save up to $7750 on Polar voyages
Save up to $7750 on Polar voyages at Flight Centre.
Up to 33% off best travel deals
Get up to 33% off the best travel deals at Lastminute.com.au. Valid on select hotels only. T&Cs apply.
Jetstar Christmas Sale: Flights for $29 & up
Valid on flights January to March and May to June. Sample fares include Melbourne-Hobart for $29, Adelaide-Melbourne for $29 and Sydney-Melbourne for $29.
Fly to Bangkok from $316 return on AirAsia
Available for travel in February to March 2017. Valid for departures in Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast.
Tigerair Sale: Flights for $30, $60 and $90
Valid on flights in February and March. Sample fares include Melbourne-Canberra for $30, Sydney-Gold Coast for $30 and Melbourne-Adelaide for $30.
Fly to Bali, Indonesia from $162 on Jetstar
Book flights to Bali, Indonesia from $162 on Jetstar at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in January 2017.
Fly to San Francisco, United States from $822: Air New Zealand
Book flights to San Francisco, United States from $822 at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in February to August 2017.
Flights to Tokyo from $460 return on AirAsia
Depart Gold Coast from $460, Melbourne from $479, Perth from $515, Sydney from $584 for travel in January and February. T&Cs apply.
Flights to Osaka from $459 return on AirAsia
Book flights to Osaka from $459 return on AirAsia at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in January to February 2017. T&Cs apply.
All flights discounted: 96 Hour Sale
Book now and get all flights discounted with Virgin Australia, Thai and Malaysia Airlines at BYOJet. T&Cs apply.
Return flights to Amsterdam from $1025
Valid 5 April until 22 June. Depart Perth from $1025 return, Melbourne from $1029 return, Adelaide from $1029 return, Sydney from $1043 return, Darwin from $1085 return, Brisbane from $1138 return. Dates may vary slightly by departure city.
Fly to Europe from $996 return
Travel dates vary by destination, with flights available until June 2017. Sample fares include Melbourne to London for $996, Sydney to Frankfurt for $1018, Perth to Amsterdam for $1025 and Brisbane to Amsterdam for $1138.
Fly to London from $937 return
Book flights to London from $937 return at I Want That Flight. Available for travel from January 2017 to June 2017 and August 2017. T&Cs apply.
Fly to Athens from $953 return on Etihad Airways
Book flights to Athens from $953 return on Etihad Airways at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in February to April 2017. Conditions apply.
Flights to Madrid from $857 return on Etihad Airways
Book flights to Madrid from $857 return on Etihad Airways at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in February to April 2017. Conditions apply.
Flights to Rome from $886 return on Etihad Airways
Book flights to Rome from $886 return on Etihad Airways at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in February to April 2017. Conditions apply.
Flights to Paris from $894 return on Etihad Airways
Book flights to Paris from $894 return on Etihad Airways at I Want That Flight. Available for travel in February to April 2017. Conditions apply.
Save up to $889: The Flaming Deal Packages
Book now and save up to $889 on flights and hotels at Wotif. T&Cs apply.
$10 off your flight to Philadelphia
Get $10 off your flight to Philadelphia at CheapAir. Conditions Apply
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Paris from $1069 return
Depart Perth from $1069 return, Melbourne from $1073 return, Adelaide from $1074, Sydney from $1085 return, Brisbane from $1182 return.
Flights to Maldives from $719 return: Etihad Airways
Book return flights to Maldives from $719 with Etihad Airways at I Want That Flight. Available for travel between Feb - Mar 2017.
Flights to Hong Kong from $560 return: Qantas
Book return flights to Hong Kong from $560 with Qantas at I Want That Flight. Valid on travel dates between 14 Feb - 21 Mar and 19 Apr - 15 Jun.
Flights to Shanghai $549 return: Qantas
Book return flights to Shanghai from $549 with Qantas at I Want That Flight.
Return flights to Los Angeles from $821
Depart Perth for $821, Melbourne for $825, Brisbane for $834, Sydney for $838 or Adelaide for $906. Valid on flights with China Southern on select dates in February and March. See calendar for details.
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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10% off flights within Australia
Simply use the code to get 10% off domestic airfares at Virgin Australia. Valid on bookings until 31 September. Tickets must be purchased 20 days in advance.
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Return flights to Thailand from $639
Valid on flights from 8 November until 7 December, 27 January until 31 March, 18 April until 23 June, 11 July until 15 September. Sample return fares include Perth to Krabi for $639, Perth to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket for $649, Melbourne to Krabi for $669, Melbourne to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket for $679, Sydney to Krabi for $686, Sydney to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket for $699, Brisbane to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket for $699/
Fly to Bali from $265 return
Valid on select dates until March. Sample fares include Perth to Bali for $223, Adelaide to Bali for $361, Melbourne to Bali from $393, Brisbane to Bali for $448 and Sydney to Bali from $531.
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