If you’re planning a trip to India, one of your biggest expenses will be the flight. A recent study by CheapAir.com found that the average economy flight price changes 61 times before takeoff… which means understanding when to buy is important.
What’s the best time to book flights to India? Skyscanner found that booking your flight 7 weeks in advance saved 24 – 53% and flying in January to saved 20 – 38%. Expedia found you should book the flight on a Sunday and fly out on a Thursday.
|Best Time To Book In Advance||Savings*||Cheapest Month To Fly||Savings*|
|New Delhi||7 weeks||24%||November||16%|
When figuring out the best time to buy flights to India, there are many variables to consider such as:
- How far in advance should you book?
- What month of the year should you fly?
- What day of the week is best to fly?
- What day of the week is best to book?
- Which website should you buy from?
- Which airline should you fly with?
- Round trip versus one-way?
- Non-stop versus direct?
In this post, I’ve studied the latest research on the best time to buy flights for India and I’ll show you how you can get a good deal.
One thing to note is that the data from one study often contradicts another study… but I will show you the general trends and how you can use modern tools to get a good price for your next flight to Incredible India.
For more India travel tips, subscribe to my Youtube channel where I share videos chock full of tips every Monday.
How Far in Advance Should You Book Flights to India?
In a few words, it depends on where you are going. But a savvy flier can get a good price by knowing a few important trends in the data.
For flights to India from the USA, Skyscanner analyzed 2 years of flight data and found that for most airports in India, you’d want to:
- Book 7 weeks in advance
- Fly in January
UNLESS you are flying to Mumbai, then book 11 weeks in advance. If you’re flying into New Delhi, then November is the cheapest month to fly.
For flights to India from all countries, Taj Travel found that if you booked 22 weeks in advance you saved 15% on airfare. Buying only 2 weeks in advance can cost you 25% more.
LITTLE-KNOWN TIP: If you are booking from the USA, the airlines are legally bound by the Department of Transportation to allow you to cancel your flight within 24 hours. Therefore, check back the day after you buy AND if the tickets is lower… cancel, then book the new date with a refund.
NOTE: The airlines may charge you for canceling, so the price drop would need to be more than the charge.
ANOTHER NOTE: You need to book directly through the airline, which you should do anyway for the best prices.
What’s Generally the Best Time to Book Your Flight?
A number of companies have conducted studies about the best time to book your flight, and I’ll quickly cover them so you have an overall idea about when to book.
CheapAir.com did a study looking at 917 million flights in 8,000 markets and found the lowest prices (within 5%) were within: 4 months to 3 weeks before departure.
Expedia did a study of 295 million passenger flights in 2018 and found the lowest prices were when you: Booked more than 3 weeks ahead.
The Season You are Flying in Matters too
CheapAir.com found differences in when to book based on what season you were flying:
- Winter: Buy 94 days before departure. The lowest prices (within 5%) are between 74 to 116 days.
- Spring: Buy 84 days before departure. The lowest prices (within 5%) are between 47 to 119 days.
- Summer: Buy 99 days before departure. The lowest prices (within 5%) are between 21 to 150 days.
- Fall: Buy 69 days before departure. The lowest prices (within 5%) are between 20 to 109 days.
This data suggests you’d want to buy earlier when most people travel. For instance, for the winter holidays or in the summer. Fewer people travel in spring or fall so you can buy closer to the date of departure.
NOTE: For travelers to India, we’d want to consider this is general data for ALL flights worldwide. Since the seasons in India are different, the data suggests we’d want to buy earlier for the winter season (December – January), since this is the peak tourist season. We could book closer to departure if we were traveling off-season in April-May and September – October.
Hopper, an app which claims it can predict low-cost flights with 95% accuracy, found contradicting data for all destinations.
- Winter: Buy 62 days before departure.
- Spring: Buy 90 days before departure.
- Summer: Buy 47 days before departure.
- Fall: Buy 69 days before departure.
This data looks like it directly contradicts what CheapAir.com found, so who is correct? I think it means you’d want to do research for your particular destination and I can show you how to do that.
Student Universe looked at prices for flights to India in December and found: You’d want to buy between July and mid-October. Buying in November would lead to significantly higher prices.
Tools to Estimate the Best Time to Book Your Trip
Kayak: When To Book
Kayak will give you a cool graph about when to book for your home airport and destination of choice.
For instance, from New York to New Delhi, I’m seeing 4 months before your departure would be the best time to book your flight.
|New York To New Delhi||Flight Price|
|1 Month Before Departure||$1,037|
|2 Months Before Departure||$955|
|3 Months Before Departure||$971|
|4 Months Before Departure||$945|
Google Flights: Track Prices & Pricing History
Google Flights offers custom pricing estimates as well. Plugin your home airport and your destination airport, then you can…
- Track Prices – You will be able to track the prices as they go up and down. They give you a handy graph and will send emails when the prices are at their lowest.
- Pricing History – Further down the flight search page, you can see an estimate about whether these prices are low, average, or high for this trip. You can also see the pricing from the past 60 days.
CheapAir.com: Price Drop Payback
CheapAir.com has a cool feature to lower your risk if the price does drop. They will pay you back (up to $100) if your booked flight price goes down.
Other Reasons to Buy Early, aside from Price
For some travelers, the convenience and comfort of your trip is more important than saving a few dollars.
Buying earlier can take a weight off your mind and help you plan the rest of your trip. Therefore, buying as early as 4 months in advance would be beneficial for you and according to CheapAir.com, would be within 5% of the lowest price.
Buying earlier can mean you have more choice over your seat. If you’re traveling with friends or family, this could mean you can all sit together.
What Month of the Year Should You Fly to India?
If you have flexibility about when you travel in India, one factor to consider would be: the cheapest month to fly.
Above we mentioned that Skyscanner found January was the best month for the cheapest flights for most Indian airports.
January has pleasant weather in most of India and is close to peak tourist season as well. It’s just slightly less popular than December, so it’s a good time to visit. However, maybe you’d prefer going in the off-season? Or in between the off-season and peak season?
Taj Travel found there were three seasons in India.
- Peak Season: December 1 through 27. June 9 through July 28.
- In-Between Seasons: November 10 through December 10. December 28 through January 30. August 5 through 30.
- Off-Season: January 15 through May 30. September 10 through November 1.
Fares are lower in the in-between and off-season, than higher during peak season.
- Lower Fares: April 1 to May 30. September 1 to October 31.
- Higher Fares: December 12 to 24. June 14 – July 14.
Expedia found similar results.
- Economy fares to India were highest in June.
- Domestic flights in India were highest in December.
Tools to Estimate the Best Month to Book Your Trip
Price Estimate Calendars
Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, and Hopper all show flight ticket prices on a calendar as you browse.
I like Google Flights the best because it shows the exact price you will pay for different days.
Kayak will show you a price range with colors.
Momondo will also show you a price range with colors.
Hopper will show you a price range with colors as well.
What’s the Best Day of the Week to Fly to India?
Overview: Look at Thursday first. Check mid-week days like Tuesday and Wednesday next. If you can’t find a good flight, then check Friday and Sunday. Here’s what the data found…
Expedia found that the cheapest and the most expensive day to fly to India were:
- Thursday is the cheapest day to depart.
- Saturday is the most expensive day to depart.
For general data across all flights, I noticed a lot of contradictory information. For instance, many blogs and vloggers state that Tuesday is the best time to fly. Yet, some companies found that other days of the week were better.
Some companies found the weekend was the most expensive to fly, and others found it was the cheapest.
Here’s what the studies found:
|Study/Website||Type of Flight||Cheapest Day To Fly||Most Expensive Day To Fly|
|Taj Travel||All Flights To India||Tuesday/Wednesday||N/A|
|Student Universe||Flights To India in December||Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday||N/A|
What’s the Best Day of the Week to Make Your Booking?
Overview: Check Sunday first for India tickets. Then check Tuesday. But don’t spend too much time or worry about this, as it may not matter. If you see a good price, then buy.
Expedia found that the best day of the week to book your ticket to India was Sunday. While the most expensive day of the week was Friday.
Although there’s also a lot of speculation about what day of the week is the best for purchasing your ticket.
CheapAir.com found that it does NOT matter what day of the week you purchase. The average low fares vary by only a few dollars, so it’s not worth considering.
Other websites and studies found different results:
|Type of Flight||Cheapest Day||Most Expensive Day||Notes|
|Skyscanner||All flights||Tuesday mornings||Thursday||Save 15 to 25%|
|Expedia||Economy Flights||Sunday||Friday||Except if you’re booking from Australia, iceland, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and Tunisia|
|Expedia||Premium Flights||Saturdays and Sundays||X||Save 15 to 120%|
The reason many studies found Tuesday is a great day to buy is that some airlines announce sales on Monday night, which encourages the other airlines to match their prices.
For more India travel tips: Is India still cheap to travel to? Some readers were asking, so in another article, I share my travel expenses as well as data about average prices for lodging, food, transportation, and more.
The Best Tools to Get Great Prices on Flights to India
As I travel and research flights, I can be overwhelmed by the number of tools that help to find great flights. This is a good problem! You may have your favorite tools already, but if you’re still learning, I’ll point out some of my favorite tools and some features you may not know about to save you time.
TIP: Check multiple flight pricing websites. FareCompare.com found that you can save 8% by comparing multiple sites instead of just one.
Google Flights: My Favorite Starting Point
I always start with Google Flights now. I like a number of the features at this site.
The Price Estimate Calendar
Other websites have this feature but I like the design of Google’s with the specific flight prices on each day.
Google Flights offers custom pricing estimates as well. Plug in your home airport and your destination airport, then you can…
When you check back into Google you can see the recent prices. They give you a handy graph and will send emails when the prices are at their lowest.
Further down the flight search page, you can see an estimate about whether these prices are low, average, or high. You can also see the pricing from the past 60 days.
Explore More Destinations:
You can check out prices to fly from your home airport to anywhere in the world. I like to use it to check the airports close to where I’m flying. For instance, I could check Mumbai’s prices versus New Delhi.
Other Cool Features:
- Date Grid: Shows you the prices of dates close to your departure.
- Price Graph: Shows a graph of the prices of dates close to your departure.
- Nearby Airports: Shows the price to fly into airports close to your destinations.
- Search Filters: There are also a large number of filters
- Connection Airports
- Flight Duration
- Separate Tickets
Hopper: Watch Filters
Hopper claims it can predict the lowest fares on flights with 95% accuracy. I like their watch filters. You can watch a flight and it will let you know the best time to buy.
I use Hopper to get a “second opinion” on prices and low price alerts.
Kayak: When To Book
Kayak is a wildly popular flight booking app because it searches multiple websites and can help you find the best costs. It’s best feature is When To Book, which I use to double-check Google Flights.
When To Book
I mentioned this above, but I love how it helps you understand the best time to book with a cool graph.
Median Airfare By Month
Low & High Season with Good Deals
Price Estimate Calendar
Explore The World
Skyscanner: Flexible Tickets & Low Price Alerts
Skyscanner is another great tool, it’s unique feature is Flexible Tickets. If you want to find flights which will let you change or cancel for free it quickly shows you as you search.
Plans change and Skyscanner makes it easy to figure out which airlines will let you cancel or change your dates for free.
Low Price Alerts
Click Track Prices and you can get emails when the prices drop.
If you just want to take a vacation to ANYWHERE, then search EVERYWHERE for destinations with good prices.
Search by Country
Want to go to India, but not sure which airport? You can search all of India’s airports. Or you can search departures from all of the United States.
CheapAir.com: Price Drop Payback
After walking you through the best times to book flights, you can see how complex it can get. I love how CheapAir.com will pay you up to $100 per ticket if the price drops, and it’s a free service.
Each Airline’s Website: Get The Best Prices
You can often find the best prices at each airline’s website. BUT checking each one can take forever, so… use the tools you like above, and once you find a good flight… THEN go to the airline’s site and see if you can get it for less money. If you are the ambitious type, give them a call and say, “I am looking at this flight on [KAYAK, GOOGLE FLIGHTS, ETC] and I see the ticket is more expensive on your website. I’d prefer to buy directly with you, can you offer a better price?”
Buying directly from the airline often has more benefits, such as being able to get a refund within 24 hours from the DOT (if purchasing in the USA).
SecretFlying.com & FlyerTalk Forums: Airline Mistakes
Sometimes airline employees post a flight for a lower price on accident, and if you move fast you can take advantage of these mistakes. There are a couple websites that track these mistakes so you can check them out.
This website lists out the best deals from erros each day.
FlyerTalk Mileage Run Forums
If you’re a frequent flyer nerd/junkie, this is the place for you. If you’re not you can learn from them as they often post great deals on flights. Search “India” to find the best flights.
To get the best prices on flights to India:
- Book your flight 7 weeks in advance to save 24 – 53%.
- If you can’t book then, book your flight at least 3 weeks in advance.
- Fly in January to save 20 – 38%.
- Book the flight on a Sunday.
- Fly out on a Thursday.
- Use Kayak and Google Flights to see pricing history on your specific flight destinations.
- Use CheapAir.com to get a Price Drop Payback.
- Check back in 24 hours to see if the price dropped and get a refund based on the US law by the DOT.
- Use Skyscanner to easily find flexible date flight tickets.
- Use more than one flight booking site to save 8%.
If you’re planning your trip to India, check out my ultimate travel checklist with free PDF, so you know what to do and when to do it while getting ready to head to this beautiful country.
For more India travel tips, subscribe to my Youtube channel where share videos chock full of tips every Monday.