New study shows best times for travel booking

The travel landscape for 2021 looks a lot more hopeful than it did a year ago—especially in terms of domestic travel. The rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. is prompting people to renew plans for vacations and other trips.

To help with that planning, CheapAir.com has released a study that shows the best times for getting deals on domestic flights. These insights can offer terrific guidance for travelers, as well as help other businesses as they market to consumers who are making travel plans.

Best times to save on booking flights

Based on data from the past 12 months, the best day for securing the lowest-price airfare is 64 days before your flight. This is an average time projection, based on 2020 flight search data analyzed by CheapAir.com. The actual best time to buy changes according to the season in which you’re planning to travel:

  • Winter: 68 days in advance

  • Spring: 21 days in advance

  • Summer: 67 days in advance

  • Fall: 89 days in advance

In general, CheapAir.com identifies the “prime booking window” to be between 21 and 95 days in advance of a trip. This is the time for booking travel when budget considerations are top priority. Travelers who book during this time may face fewer options for flight selection, but booking further out (3–6 months) to widen your choices may cost $37 more per ticket, on average.

Booking on a particular day of the week doesn’t yield more savings, but the day of your flight can make a difference. Mid-week flights (Tuesday and Wednesday) offer more value and selection than flying on the weekend. You can expect to pay $82 more (on average) to fly on Sunday than on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the study.

Get ready to cash in on growing demand

When it comes to U.S. travel, the overused phrase “pent-up demand” certainly fits: Nearly two-thirds of all adults said they would give up a month of social media to go on vacation this year. And nearly half (49%) said they plan to travel more in 2021, according to our recent survey.

Airlines aren’t the only businesses that stand to gain from an expected surge in travel spending this year. That’s good news if you’re looking to market goods and services to U.S. travelers, and the flight-booking averages from CheapAir.com can be a helpful tool. You can plan the timing of your promotions for lodging, tourist experiences, travel gear, and more based on those seasonal trends.

One way to win more customers who are looking to travel this year is to offer flexible payments with Affirm. We’ve seen that offering customers the chance to buy now and pay later (BNPL) can boost incremental sales, increase conversion, and lift average order values (AOV). In fact, CheapAir.com saw a 54% increase in AOV after integrating Affirm into its checkout flow.

Another promotional tool—0% APR offers—can boost your profit margins and appeal to travelers on a budget. These promotions are a great alternative to discounting, as many shoppers see value in making fixed payments over time without paying interest. When Suiteness offered a 0% APR promotion with Affirm, the results also included growth of a new, younger customer segment.

As travel spending surges in 2021, many travelers will still make budgets a top priority due to the pandemic’s economic fallout. You’ll be in a good position to win them as customers when you prioritize their budgets, too.

Learn how Affirm can increase sales for your business.

Infographic showing 4 seasons, with calendar icon outlining the best time to book travel for that season.

Sign up for our newsletter

Subscribe today to get retail news and insights in your inbox each month.