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The Best Times to Book a Flight in 2023

Looking for cheaper fares? When you buy makes a difference.

Air travel is revving up as we head into summer. While prices have declined from their May 2022 peak, the average plane ticket is still over 20% more expensive than it was this time last year. 

There are still ways to get cheaper fares, though. Many credit cards offer airline miles and travel perks like TSA Precheck and airport lounge access.

But even knowing when to fly and when to buy your ticket can save you money. 

Google Flights examined five years' worth of airfare data to find patterns on the cheapest days to fly and the best time for booking your flights during each season. Here are the cheapest days and times of the year to buy plane tickets. 

For more travel tips, find out which credit cards have the best travel rewards.

What is the cheapest day to fly?

According to Google, fares are less expensive if you fly in the middle of the week, rather than on the weekend.

Over the past five years, flights that took off Monday to Wednesday were, on average, 12% to 20% cheaper than weekend flights.

Sundays are a particularly expensive day to depart, Google said.

Is there a certain day you should buy tickets?

While some insiders insist fares drop on Tuesdays after the airlines assess weekend sales, the reality is carriers are adjusting their prices constantly. 

Tickets purchased between Tuesday and Thursday were, on average, just 1.9% cheaper than ones bought over the weekend. 

"There isn't much value in purchasing your tickets on a certain day of the week," Google said.

Plane coming in for a landing at SFO

Look for flights taking off in the middle of the week.

James Martin/CNET

How far ahead should you book a flight?

It's best to buy plane tickets well in advance. While Google didn't have data on international travel, the company said that, for domestic flights, prices are generally at their lowest 21 to 60 days before takeoff.  

The best time to book a flight in every season

While flights are typically cheapest from January to March, sometimes you don't have flexibility about when you need to travel. Here's what Google said about the best times to book holiday and vacation trips.

Spring break. For domestic flights in March and April, Google said prices are typically lowest 23 to 59 days before departure, hitting their lowest price 38 days out.

Summer vacation. For domestic flights in July or August, prices are typically lower 14 to 44 days out, hitting rock bottom 21 days before takeoff.

Thanksgiving and Christmas. The cheapest flights over the winter holidays are usually available between 36 and 74 days in advance. For Christmas, start keeping an eye on fares 88 days in advance (in late September). Prices reach their lowest 22 days before departure, but you run the risk of many flights selling out before then.

Apply for a credit card with travel benefits

Many credit cards have rewards programs that can save money on airfare, as well as score users flight upgrades, hotel discounts and even cash back on a new bikini.

Some travel cards have annual fees though, so be sure you'll benefit from the perks enough to make it worth the cost.

Check out CNET's picks for the best travel credit cards in 2023.

Consider a layover

If you don't mind taking a little longer, Google said passengers can save an average of 20% on their ticket by booking a layover instead of a nonstop flight.

Other ways to find deals using Google Flights

Google suggests comparing current prices to previous days to see if you're getting the lowest price. 

Compare today's airfare to older prices. Search your destination on Google and compare today's rate to similar flights over the past 12 months. (Some search results will also indicate if the price is expected to change.)

Turn on Google Flight price tracking. Toggle on Track prices and include your travel dates and Google will send you an email if the prices change. If you don't have a specific week in mind, you can select Any dates to get a notification if the price drops for flights departing in the next three to six months.

Read more: After 500 Flights, This Travel Expert Shares His Best Saving Secrets