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Domestic summer flights

When is the Best Time to Book Summer Flights?

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Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

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Should I book my flights now or wait? It's the age-old question when planning travel, especially for summer trips that can seem far off for so much of the year, but suddenly come up fast. 

Airfare changes constantly, for better or for worse. And when it comes to travel during the high-demand summer months of June, July, and August when kids are out of school and the weather is perfect, it can be even more fickle. 

While there is no best time to book flights, Google Flights does release some overall flight pricing data that can give you a general idea of when you should start looking for summer flights, and when you should actually book by for the lowest price. 

But Google's data isn't perfect. Case in point: Our team at Thrifty Traveler Premium has been finding cheap flights for summer 2024 since last year, and we'll still likely keep finding deals as we get closer to the peak travel months, too. 

If you're planning a trip this summer, here's when you should start searching for – and booking – flights. 


The Best Time to Book Summer Flights, According to the Data

Google Flights is the single best airfare search tool, bar none. It's a one-stop shop for airfare with the most information about every airplane seat on sale, and filters that can help you zero in on the best flights. 

As Google Flights encapsulates nearly every single flight that operates worldwide, it also offers valuable data for travelers on when flight prices will be lowest and the latest you can procrastinate on booking your flight. 

If you aim to stay in the U.S. this summer, your booking window is much closer in. According to Google Flights' most recent data, you should book domestic summer flights between 14 and 44 days of travel, with the lowest fares coming 21 days out.

That means that for a Fourth of July trip, you should start searching for flights around May 19, and all the best deals will be gone by June 20. 


The Best Time to Book Summer Flights to Europe

Are you planning a big trip abroad this summer? For flights to Europe, Google Flights says you should book at least 72 days before your trip or sooner to get the best deal. That means you should start looking around six months before you plan to travel and be sure to book at least 10 weeks before your trip. From our experience, this is closer to reality.


Paris, France


According to Google Flights's data, it's probably too late to book the cheapest possible Europe trip this summer, but we've found some exceptions to this rule. 


The Best Time to Book Summer Flights, According to Experts

If you ask us, right now is the best time to book summer 2024 flights! 

Most airlines put their flights on sale 11 months in advance, and since August 2023, our team of flight deal analysts has been finding cheap flights for summer 2024 and sending them straight to the inboxes of our Thrifty Traveler Premium members. And the cheap flights faucet hasn't really turned off since then. 

That's why we're a little skeptical of Google's data that says the best deals come between 14 and 44 days ahead of travel…because we've been sending the best deals for months and months. That's not to say there aren't savings to be found within a few weeks of travel, though. Just this week, we found summer flight deals to Chicago (MDW), Portland, Maine (PWM), Puerto Rico (BQN), Los Angeles (LAX), New Zealand (AKL), and the Azores Islands of Portugal, just to name a few. 


Summer flights
The Thrifty Traveler Premium subscriber dashboard, filtered for flights during June, July, and August 2024 sent in the last week.


So there is something to Google Flights' data, but it could be misleading for travelers who think waiting until three weeks before travel will offer them the best savings. That's because Google Flights pulls in data from thousands of flights every second, including flights with data that isn't useful to you. 

Did you know, for instance, that there are 352 flights a week between Los Angeles (LAX) and Las Vegas (LAS)? Same for between Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG). On flights like these, airfare tends to be super low because of the high supply of seats, and that airfare often stays low until just days or hours before takeoff. That's a lot of data skewing Google Flights analysis of the best time to book flights. Those 352 flights count the same toward Google's calculations as the 352 yearly flights on many routes in the U.S. and abroad – including the flight you want to San Francisco (SFO), Bozeman (BZN), Nashville (BNA), or Banff (YYC). 

The data is skewed – big time. And while it can provide some general guidance on when to start looking and booking flights, it can also lead travelers to wait too long to book, and they'll end up paying for more their trip – or forgoing it altogether. 

So when should you book a summer flight? It might sound obvious: The best time to book a summer flight (or any flight for that matter) is when you find a cheap flight. 

There are great deals to be had for summer flights all year, often well before Google Flights' data window. Here's what we do to ensure we're booking the cheapest summer fares every time. 

First: Set a Google Flights Price Alert for the destinations you want to visit during summer as soon as possible. 


Google Flights price alert for flights from Minneapolis to Montreal.  

Next: Book the first cheap flight you get from those price alerts (or your Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts). Book Main Cabin or higher to ensure you can change or cancel your flight for free. 

Finally: Keep those Google Flights price alerts on even after you book. If you see flight prices go down as your trip gets closer, you can change or cancel your flight and rebook at the lower price and pocket a voucher or travel credit for the difference. If you're a sicko like me, you could even rebook your flights four different times to get the ones you actually want, often for the same or lower price. 

Waiting until Google Flights' recommended 14-44 day flight booking window to secure your airfare means you're gambling on taking your trip at all. And by then, lodging and rental car options will be fewer and further between, too. 


Where is it Cheap to Fly This Summer? 

Remember above when I said right now is the best time to book your summer flights. I meant that! The last few weeks have been a treasure trove of great flight deals for summer travel. 

This first deal is a good example of when Google Flights' data is correct. Some of these $77 roundtrip flights to Chicago (MDW) are just a few weeks from now and all the way through the first week of June.

Chicago flight deal


If spending Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago doesn't float your boat, maybe a mid-summer jaunt up the Maine coast will.

These fares to Portland, Maine (PWM) included tons of peak summer rates. 


Portland Maine flight deal


And for travelers who want the limitless sunshine of Southern California, this Los Angeles (LAX) flight deal had our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers buzzing about Hollywood last week, too. 


Los Angeles summer


Finally, there might not be a destination on the eastern seaboard more synonymous with summer than Martha's Vineyard (MYV). While it's typically hard to find cheap flights to get out there, this deal could get you an idyllic summer trip on the East Coast for much, much less. 


Martha's Vineyard


If you're looking to dust off the passport, you'll be happy to hear that you don't have to stay within the U.S. to find a cheap summer flight. While the most abundant savings are close to home, some of our favorite worldwide destinations can also be cheap during the peak summer travel months. 

Ever heard of Banff National Park in Canada? For less than $299 roundtrip, you could experience its majestic natural beauty for yourself during the best time of the year to visit: June, July, and August. 


Banff flight deal


The same goes for the far western side of Canada where Vancouver (YVR) flight prices have also taken a nosedive for the summer months from many cities. 


Vancouver peak summer


Both of these deals are part of a larger trend up north right now. Namely, flight prices to Canada are as cheap as we've ever seen them this summer. 

If Western Canada floats your boat, then the staunch beauty of Iceland should also be of interest to you. 


Iceland peak summer


Iceland is home to so much insane beauty. Waterfalls like this are as common as stop signs and the lush mountains and volcanoes that dot the island make for some of the best vistas on the planet. But it's not expensive to get to Iceland – even in summer. 

Nonstop flights to Reykjavik (KEF) in the $400s and $500s aren't out of the norm, and many of the fares we found on that flight deal are still kicking as of this writing! 

The same goes for another set of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, although these are much further south – and warmer, too.


Azores late summer


The Azores and Madeira (FNC) are two stunning travel destinations, and thanks to some awesome fares on Azores Airlines, you could book a roundtrip from the East Coast for under $600 for an end-of-summer trip. 

If you've run out of patience for Google Flights and tracking flight prices, you can flex another tool in your toolbelt: Your points and miles.

This deal we sent a few days ago flying Air France and KLM using Flying Blue miles could connect you from these five North American gateways to dozens of European cities this summer. Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all the banks: American Express, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and, as of recently, Wells Fargo


Air France points and miles


While your points will take you the furthest in economy, you can also use your points to fly in style this summer, too. Just a few days ago, we sent out this nonstop flight deal to Ireland and the U.K. flying Aer Lingus business class starting at just 45,000 points each way! 


aer lingus business class seat


Don't you think you could make that work for the 7-plus hour flight across the Atlantic? 


Aer Lingus business class


Your Alaska miles, Aer Lingus Avios, or British Airways Avios (transferrable from all the major banks) could put you in one of those fancy seats this summer. 


Bottom Line

Travelers always struggle with when to book flights to get the best price, and the high-demand summer travel season complicates it further. 

But between Google Flights data and our own analysis, we can tell you the best time to book summer 2024 flights is right now!


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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