When is the cheapest time to book a flight?

Flights prices are constantly changing and finding the cheapest ticket is not an exact science. Airfares can go up by 100s of pounds within a few minutes, or you can book a flight only to find out a week later that it has dropped in price as a part of an airline sale.


Here are some of our top tips for finding the cheapest flight ticket, including when is usually the cheapest time to book. All of this information is only to be used as a guide, as there’s no set rules to booking the cheapest flight tickets.


International Scheduled Flights


6 months before – having worked in travel for most of my adult life, I’ve noticed that around 6 months before the flight departure date, is generally a great time to book an international scheduled ticket. Scheduled flights are the likes of Emirates, American Airlines & Qatar that can fly you from Manchester to a whole range of exciting worldwide destinations. 


These tickets can generally be booked a maximum of 11 months in advance, but booking them as soon as the tickets are released is not generally the cheapest time, unless it’s for a super-peak date such as Xmas or a sporting tournament.


Example – I searched for a Manchester to Dubai flight ticket for a direct flight with Emirates for the first week of September (6 months from now) and the first week of February (11 months from now). September came in at £450 and February came in at £470obviously not a huge fare difference but over 5 seats for a family this does add up!


We generally find around 6 months before is a great time to book scheduled flights like Emirates from Manchester to Dubai

Short Haul Charter / Low Cost Flights


Short Haul Charter flights & Budget Low Cost flights are a bit different to the scheduled tickets, and it’s  generally the cheapest to book the seats as soon as you possibly can. Whilst occasionally the budget airlines will have a sale and offer some airfare reductions, you take a gamble waiting for this and so it’s best to just book your seats as soon as you know that you are wanting to travel.


The Low Cost airlines include the likes of Easyjet & Ryan-air, and they generally have their pricing algorithm set to “the less seats / the more demand / higher the fare”.

Ryanair - a low cost airline that flies from Manchester
Low cost flights are generally cheaper the sooner that you book them.

Some more tips for getting the cheapest airfare


  •  Check a few different websites to get the cheapest airfare but don’t waste too much time trying every travel agent & website under the sun, as unlike Package Holidays, flights don’t come with great commission so agents are unable to discount them to try and win the sale.

    We recommend searching Manchester Travel Shop flight search as it gets airfares from most of the top travel sites, and then maybe 2 other options such as Expedia & E-Dreams
  • If you are wanting any of the following, it’s best to pick up the call and speak to a travel agent rather than searching online for your flight:
    • Multi-Centre Flights or Open Jaw Tickets.
    • Flights with a deposit (they usually need to be booked with a ground arrangement such as a hotel or car.)
    • Premium or Business Seats.
    • Flight Tickets with flexibility.
  • 99.9% of the time it will always be cheaper to book a low cost flight ticket directly with the airline whilst scheduled flight tickets can generally be found cheaper through flight booking agencies. If you are booking a flight ticket over the phone expect to pay a little more but you obviously have the benefit of it being booked by a professional and it is their responsibility if anything is booked incorrectly.
  • If booking 4 seats or more with a budget airline like Ryan-air, it can often be cheaper to split the booking up into several bookings (but you do run the risk of there not being enough seats available or someone grabbing the cheaper ones before you).
  • Always search for flight seats on “Incognito” mode on your browser, the airlines use cookies and can be crafty at knowing you are returning to book so put up the price.


I hope this article has been useful, please comment below if you have any questions about finding cheap airfares that I have not mentioned. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to booking the cheapest ticket, but as a general rule book early and book direct or with a reputable travel agent site.