How far ahead should you buy your airfares? Cracking the code on cheap airfares is as simple as combining your destination with the best time to book flights.

Most people who want to fly on the cheap try to purchase their flights early, but that only works for some destinations.  The cheapest month to fly depends on where you are going says leading travel search engine Kayak.

How can you crack the code on cheap airfares?

Here are 10 tips that will put you in the driver’s seat heading first to the finish line to book cheap flights.

1 Don’t book too early

What is the best time to book flights? The early bird doesn’t always get the best worm when it comes to travel. Kayak says the average domestic fare six months before a departure date that they found was 2 per cent higher than the fare two to four weeks before departure.

2 Get up before the sun!

Unfortunately, unless you are a night owl, 3 am on a Thursday has been identified as the cheapest time and day to book your holiday. Use this best time to book flights in combination with optimum lead times and best value travel month, and you’ll snag a bargain. Catch up on your beauty sleep while you are flying!

3 Where can you go next week?

The best time to book flights to trending destinations Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast is just one week in advance and less. November is the cheapest travel month.

4 Best travel days to book domestic flights

Leave home on Saturday and head back on a Monday flight for a 16 per cent cheaper flight on average. That’s one easy way to crack the code on cheap airfares.


5. Flying to the latest hot spot?

India is topping the list of trending international destinations, with huge search spikes. Book two months in advance for up to a 17 per cent flight discount.  The cheapest month to travel here is August but do check the weather. The top trending Indian destination searches are Ahmedabad (+182 per cent on last year), Hyderabad (+117 per cent on last year) and Bengaluru (+89 per cent on the previous year).

6. Are you a Bali babe?

Bali is still the top most searched international destination in Australia.  You’ll need to be organised up to three and a half months ahead. November is the cheapest travel month.

7. London calling?

A holiday to London surprisingly only requires booking 4.5 months in advance and the cheapest month for London travel is November.  It’s a bit chilly, and there are fewer daylight hours, but you can still have a grand old time while cracking the code on cheap airfares.

8. Cheapest travel days for international flights

Race to the airport on a Tuesday and come home on a Wednesday to save up to 21 per cent on foreign trips.

9. Got some questions?

I did, so I put them to Robin Chiang, Regional Director, APAC of KAYAK.  I asked Robin for the inside story on the travel tips and about his own travel plans.

What’s so special about 3 am on Thursday?

According to our latest 2019 ‘Best Time to Book’ travel guide, there are different lead times to book in advance for different destinations. And based on our data, KAYAK finds that booking on a Thursday at 3 am may help users to enjoy the highest potential savings on airfare. In other words, travellers can potentially find better deals when fewer people are searching.

Does this only work for holidays, or is also a good time for car rentals and other add-ons?

This works more for holidays since flight prices fluctuate more with different lead times to book. That’s why we have the ‘Best Time to Book’ travel guide to help our travellers to find the right time (read: cheapest) to book flights. Other add-ons such as car rentals do not fluctuate as much, based on our data, more than 50% of users only book less than a week in advance, and the price difference is only 17% more than average car rental cost. 

Where was your last holiday and how far ahead did you book it?

I tacked on a short holiday on a recent business trip to Rome. Our price forecast tool worked like a charm. I followed the advice to wait, and a week later I saved one-third of the fare, bagging a 13-hour return flight from Hong Kong to Rome for AUD830. For that flight, I booked it 11 days before my departure date.

What’s the next holiday planned and when will you book that?

I am heading to Kyoto for my next trip. It is an amazing city, much of it frozen in time from the Edo period in the 16 century. As it was the capital of Japan for a millennium, Kyoto has a lot of intricate handicraft, fantastic architecture and haute Japanese cuisine. It’s such a fascinating contrast to the neon metropolis that is Tokyo. I will trust our Price Forecast for the right time book and use our latest AR bag measurement tool to scan my carry-ons to save some baggage fee.

“Each destination has different optimum lead times, so we’ve created a ‘Best Time to Book‘ travel guide for Aussie travellers. The guide reveals the cheapest months to visit the popular and trending destinations, how far in advance to book and most importantly, whether you are getting a good deal. And for the savviest and most dedicated Aussie travellers, we have pinpointed 3 am on a Thursday as the cheapest time to make your booking.”

10. More tips

Here are some more tips for travellers to find the best deal and the best times to book flights.

Now you have cracked the code on cheap airfares, here is what you should wear on the plane.


Kerry Heaney is a food sherpa, travelling the world bite by bite. For her, it’s all about where to go to eat and where to eat when you go, and she’s been writing about that for the past 20 years.

A writer and editor who contributes regular food and travel feature stories for a range of print publications including, Kerry has been sharing food love through Eat, drink + be Kerry for ten years.

Although dedicated to eating her way around the world, Kerry is an expert on Queensland food and has written the Queensland food component for several Hardie Grant titles.

Kerry is a past president of the Australian Travel Writers Society (ASTW). Chat with Kerry on Facebook at Eat,drink+beKerry or see where she has been lately at eatdrinkandbekerry on Instagram.