This may be my favorite column of the year because it helps travelers know when it’ll be cheap to fly so they can plan vacation trips ahead of time.
My analysis is based on a review of more than 280 million airfares, prices for tickets to and from every city in the world, every day, for stays of about one week. The results are then crunched down to “average daily cheapest fares.”
First, the bad news: This guide can only take us into September because airlines don’t actively manage prices any further out.
The good news: the cheapest time to fly all year is just around the corner.
Cheapest days to fly in the U.S. and Canada
January and February
- Cheapest days to fly: Jan. 7 through Feb. 28-29
- Single cheapest day to fly: Jan. 21
- Most expensive time to fly: Feb. 14 to 17, thanks to the double whammy of Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend which prompts airlines to hike fares
- Tip: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest days to fly in January and February
March and April
- First post-winter price hike: Feb. 29 through March 1. It’s still a good value, but not the cheapest time to fly.
- Most expensive time to fly: Avoid Fridays and Sundays; they’re more expensive.
- Tip: The cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday.
June, July, August and September
- For early summer trips: Fly by June 3 to avoid pre-summer price hike on June 4.
- Major summer price hike: Fares will jump on or around June 22.
- Most expensive time to fly: June 22 to Aug. 24
- Tip: Watch for an initial pre-fall price drop on or about Aug. 25, followed by more price drops in early to mid-September. Tuesday and Wednesday flights will be especially cheap then.
Cheapest dates to fly to Europe in 2020
January, February and March
- Cheapest days to fly: Jan. 22 to March 25
- Cheap days of the week to fly: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
- First price hike of spring: March 26
May and June
- Most expensive time to fly: May 14
- Major summer price hike: June 2
July, August and September
- First price drop of summer: July 15
- Most expensive time to fly: Aug. 11
- Another big price drop for fall: Sept. 11
- Tip: For European trips, winter is cheap, summer expensive, and fall is cheap again.
The best way to shop for trips in 2020
Shop as you would year-round. Compare airfares. No single airline always has the best deal so if you don’t compare, you could miss out on big savings.
Don’t shop too late, either! Generally speaking, you can book European trips one to three months before departure, and domestic flights from about three weeks to a month or two ahead.
That said, monitor prices, and if you see a deal now, jump on it. Over the weekend, I saw New York to London for travel end of May/early June for $321. Now that’s a deal worth grabbing.