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How far in advance can you book a flight?

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    You want to embark on your next trip or exciting adventure—how exciting! Part of getting ready for a trip is preparing your flight ahead of time. But how far ahead should you book?

    The sweet spot for booking a flight is about 1–3 months for domestic flights and 2–8 months for international flights. You could book even earlier, as flights release bookings just under a year ahead of time.

    In this article, you will learn about:

    • How far in advance you can buy an airline ticket
    • How far in advance should you book your flight
    • If you can book a flight more than a year in advance
    • When the best time is to book a flight for domestic travel
    • When is a good time to book a flight for international travel

    How far in advance can you buy an airline ticket?

    If you want to book well ahead of schedule, you might be wondering how far in advance you can buy an airline ticket. This depends on the airline you’re using and if you’re flying domestic or international, but airlines may release their flight plans just under a year in advance.

    You can start purchasing an airline ticket of your choice as soon as it’s available for you to buy online. Keep in mind, however, that other details, such as gate and boarding pass, won’t become available until closer to the date of the flight.

    How far in advance should I book my flight?

    As a general rule, you should book your flight anywhere from 1–3 months ahead of the trip. Of course, this depends on whether your flight is international or domestic and if you end up having last-minute changes. Additionally, if you are traveling with a large group, booking further in advance can help ensure you have the proper number of seats available.

    About 1–3 months advance notice when booking your flight allows you ample time to make changes and forego any last-minute anxiety you might encounter as you scramble to find room on a flight to your destination. It also gives you time to look at options for the kind of flight you want. Booking further in advance can give you some more wiggle room to find an overnight or connecting flight. You may want to book on the earlier side if you’re planning to fly during a busy travel season (such as around holidays) to make sure there are flights available.

    Can you book a flight more than a year in advance?

    You generally cannot book a flight more than a year in advance. This is because airlines don’t usually release their flight plans until just under a year out. While you may not be able to book your desired flight over a year in advance, it's possible to start early—up to a full year in most cases—when booking your flight.

    When is a good time to book a flight for domestic travel?

    It’s beneficial to book a domestic flight anywhere from 1–3 months. However, as with any flight, this depends on your goal. If you’re looking to play your trip by ear or look for last-minute deals, you could book a flight at the last minute, though this isn’t recommended, as it requires a great degree of flexibility and a high tolerance for risk.

    When is the best time to book a flight for international travel?

    The details governing international travel are often more complex and therefore may require more time and patience. You may want to book an international flight about 2–8 months ahead of time, even further out if you’re going with a group.

    It's helpful to build in more time when booking international travel to make sure there’s a flight available for the time you’re looking to go, as well as seats and flight routes that you desire.

    In summary

    Whether you’re taking a short, domestic trip or embarking on an international adventure, booking your flight ahead of time can save you headaches and stress. With proper time management and organization, you can help ensure a smooth trip in the friendly skies.

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