Research: This is the cheapest time to book flights

Shot of a young woman holding her passport and ticket while sitting on a chair in an airport departure lounge

Looks like Aussies are going to have to become early birds because new research has shown that the optimum time to snag cheap flights is 3 am on a Thursday.

Those who place a high value on beauty sleep will find this news devastating.

We know we do.


Travel search engine KAYAK has analysed millions of search queries over the past two years to bring you the results of its its 2019 ‘Best Time to Book’ from Australia travel guide.

The handy guide uncovers the top and trending international and domestic destinations for Aussie travellers, the best time to book these holidays, the cheapest month to travel and the potential savings that await.

For the most popular international destinations amongst Aussies, namely Bali, London, Los Angeles, Auckland and Singapore, KAYAK has revealed the number of months (or weeks) to book in advance for the best potential savings on airfare.

Interestingly, despite only being a short flight away, Bali requires a three and a half month lead time – whilst further afield Los Angeles requires just two months.

Best time to book for top 10 international destinations

RankingTop searched international destinationBest time to book (months in advance)Potential savings (%)Cheapest month to travel
1Bali, Indonesia3.5 months in advanceUp to 15%November
2London, UK4.5 months in advanceUp to 12%November
3Los Angeles, USA2 months in advanceUp to 10%November
4Auckland, New Zealand1 month in advanceUp to 21%May
5Singapore3.5 months in advanceUp to 42%August
6Bangkok, Thailand1 month in advanceUp to 15%October
7New Delhi, India2 months in advanceUp to 17%August
8Tokyo, Japan3.5 months in advanceUp to 14%November
9Phuket, Thailand4.5 months in advanceUp to 35%August
10Manila, The Philippines3 months in advanceUp to 18%November


With Ahmedabad (+182 per cent year-on-year search growth), Hyderabad (+117 per cent year-on-year search growth) and Bengaluru (+89 per cent year-on-year search growth) seeing spikes in searches, Australians’ increasing appreciation for and desire to travel to India is evident.

Other trending destinations include Kathmandu in Nepal (+115 per cent year-on-year search growth), Colombo in Sri Lanka (+95 per cent year-on-year search growth) and Istanbul in Turkey (+94 per cent year-on-year search growth).

Best time to book for trending international destinations

RankingTop trending international destinationYear-on-year change in  search volumeBest time to book (months/weeks in advance)Potential saving (%)Cheapest month to travel
1Ahmedabad, India+182%2 weeks in advanceUp to 16%October
2Hyderabad, India+117%3.5 months in advanceUp to 21%October
3Kathmandu, Nepal+115%2 weeks in advanceUp to 20%May
4Colombo, Sri Lanka+95%3.5 months in advanceUp to 18%May
5Istanbul, Turkey+94%2 weeks in advanceUp to 11%November
6Bengaluru, India+89%1 month in advanceUp to 19%February
7Hong Kong+89%3.5 months in advanceUp to 24%August
8Tokyo, Japan+88%3.5 months in advanceUp to 14%November
9Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam+81%1 month in advanceUp to 16%May
10Manila, The Philippines+78%3 months in advanceUp to 18%November


When it comes to travelling interstate, early birds don’t always get the worm. KAYAK’s expert data provides some great news to those who are always last minute, as the best time to book a trip to some of the top domestic destinations including the Gold Coast and Sunshine coast are just one week in advance or less.

Best time to book for top 10 domestic destinations

RankingTop domestic destinationBest time to book (months in advance)Potential saving (%)Cheapest month to travel
1Melbourne1 month in advanceUp to 26%August
2Sydney1 month in advanceUp to 26%August
3Brisbane1 month in advanceUp to 20%August
4Gold Coast1 week in advanceUp to 9%November
5Cairns1.5 months in advanceUp to 20%May
6Perth2 weeks in advanceUp to 18%May
7Hobart1 month in advanceUp to 14%May
8Adelaide2 weeks in advanceUp to 21%August
9Sunshine CoastLast minuteUp to 8%August
10Canberra2 weeks in advanceUp to 18%August


It seems the Sunshine Coast is becoming a hotspot for locals, as it ranks first on the list of trending domestic destinations with a significant 105 per cent year-on-year increase in search growth, followed by the Gold Coast which shows 70 per cent year-on-year increase in search growth.

Best time to book for trending domestic destinations

RankingTrending domestic destinationYear-on-year change in  search growth (%)Best time to book (months in advance)Potential saving (%)Cheapest month to travel
1Sunshine Coast+105%Last minuteUp to 8%August
2Gold Coast+70%1 week in advanceUp to 9%November
3Darwin+68%1.5 months in advanceUp to 14%January
4Perth+63%2 months in advanceUp to 19%May
5Brisbane+58%1 month in advanceUp to 20%February
6Adelaide+56%2 weeks in advanceUp to 21%August
7Canberra+51%2 weeks in advanceUp to 18%August
8Sydney+49%1 month in advanceUp to 26%August
9Tasmania+49%2 weeks in advanceUp to 22%August
10Hobart+43%1 month in advanceUp to 14%May

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