If you think you've got to wait until just a few months (or weeks) before your trip to book your flight, read carefully. You're doing it wrong.
Believe it or not, most airlines put flights on sale flights as far as 11 months in advance. On some major international carriers, that stretches a full 365 days. That gives you plenty of time to plan for a big trip as far out as July 2022.
And it can pay to plan ahead. While booking that far in advance isn't always a recipe for the cheapest fares, we're already finding flight deals for summer 2022 and sending deal alerts to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.
Read on to learn when airlines publish their flights – and how you can use it to your advantage.
How Far Out Can I Book Flights?
You don't have to wait until a month before your trip to book a flight – or even a cheap one, at that.
Most major airlines publish their flights 11 months (or 330 days) in advance. Booking with some major international carriers like All Nippon Airways or Iberia, that's nearly a full year.
When you're searching using Google Flights, you'll notice that you can search for flights up to 11 months out from the current date.
Thrifty Tip: Have an event you need to travel for with set dates? Set a Google Flights Price Alert up to 11 months in advance, and get alerted when the price changes.
On most airlines, that is.
Major U.S. airlines including Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United publish flights 11 months days out. The same is true for most major international airlines, too – expect to be able to book flights roughly 11 months out, give or take a few days.
But other airlines like JetBlue and many budget carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, Sun Country, and Southwest publish their flight schedules on a rolling basis. That means they may only publish flights six to ten months in advance – or less. But they'll continually push out that window to make more future flights bookable.
|Alaska||330 days in advance|
|American||331 days in advance|
|Delta||331 days in advance|
|Hawaiian||330 days in advance|
|JetBlue||Currently through Sept. 7, 2021|
|Southwest||Currently through Aug. 16, 2021|
|Sun Country||Varies by route|
|United||334 days in advance|
The flight release schedule varies for these low-cost carriers. The best way to see if they've published flights for your future trip of interest? Browse the calendar on Google Flights or on the airline's website to see if they've populated yet. If they haven't, you'll get a message like this:
We know it may seem like there's no method to this madness, but there's a reason behind the budget airlines' approach. This allows them to not only drum up excitement when new dates are released, but also reduce the number of flights they change or cancel based on schedule changes.
Flight Deals for 2022
That old trope that flight deals can only be found for last-minute trips is false.
We find flight deals up to 11 months in advance, and instantly alert our Thrifty Traveler Premium members. This comes in handy if you're already looking towards a winter getaway, spring break 2022, or even starting to think about cheap trips next summer!
We're already finding flight deals that are available through July 2022. Yes, you can plan ahead! The key to cheap flights is booking a flight when it's cheap, not when you remember to book.
Take this recent deal we recently found and sent Premium members to Phoenix from as low as $96 roundtrip. This deal was bookable all the way through winter, spring, and into summer 2022!
Dreaming of getting to Europe in 2022? This recent deal we found meant you could have planned ahead for a winter holiday trip, spring break, or beyond. And by then, travel to Europe may be much easier.
Yep, cheap flights are already landing for spring and summer next year!
Summer trip to Canada didn't happen this year? Use a cheap flight to rebook that peak summer adventure.
This flight deal is already gone, but you can get the next one with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
A Word of Caution
In normal times, the ability to book flights up to 11 months (or more) in advance is a blessing. Why not book a cheap flight far in advance.
But these are not normal times. Airlines are changing their flight schedules now more than ever. So, what does that mean for travelers?
If you snag a deal far in advance, keep in mind that the flight you book may not actually be the flight you take.
That makes it more important than ever to make sure you're booking a flight that can be changed or canceled fee-free. Watch your reservations like a hawk to make sure your airline doesn't make a major unannounced change.
And remember that if your airline cancels or significantly changes your flights, they owe you a refund.
Don't wait until the last minute to book your flights. For many airlines, you can see – and track – flight prices up to 11 months out.
And yes, this means that we see flight prices drop as far as 11 months out, too. Ditch the old myth that you can only get a cheap flight if you book last-minute. You can start planning your future travels by keeping an eye out for flight deals for summer 2022 now!