The Best Time Of Day To Fly Right Now

Experts break down the optimal times for air travel in terms of cost, convenience, comfort and likelihood of cancellations.

The year 2022 marked a difficult time for air travel as passengers grappled with mass cancellations, increased prices, lost luggage, endless lines and general chaos.

Although things seem to have calmed down thus far in 2023, air travelers are carrying new wisdom into the new year and looking to be more strategic as they book flights. One way to cut down on the likelihood of a negative flight experience is to take a mindful approach to the dates and times of day you fly.

We asked travel experts to share which time of day they think is the best for passengers in terms of cost, convenience, comfort and cancellations. As it turns out, they had a similar answer for all four.

The best time of day to fly to reduce delays and cancellations.

“The best time of day to fly is almost always very early in the morning,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer. “Early morning flights are much less likely to get delayed or canceled than those taking place later in the day. Even if your morning flight is canceled, your odds of experiencing a lengthy delay are minimal. In the event of a cancellation, there is still time to get you on a new flight that morning or sometime in the early afternoon.”

Later flights typically rely on crew and aircraft from previous segments of the day, so they’re more susceptible to delays due to operational issues, as well as maintenance problems. When earlier flights are delayed, there tends to be a ripple effect across many locations and itineraries.

“The delays add up as the day goes along and this means more missed connections or canceled flights later in the day,” said Mark Wolters, creator of the popular “Wolters World” travel channel on YouTube. “It may not be great having to get up super early in the morning to get to the airport, but the peace of mind that you have a better chance of catching your flight, making your connections, and getting to your destination when you are supposed to can help motivate you to set that early morning alarm.”

Of course, morning flights aren’t 100% immune to delays and airline issues, but they tend to offer more options to passengers who might need to find alternative flights in the event of a large-scale outage or other event.

“If you cannot handle a flight at 8 a.m. or earlier, you should at least attempt to book a flight departing by 11 a.m. or noon at the latest,” Dengler said. “Things snowball throughout the day, and those flying later are often out of luck if there is an airline meltdown.”

Booking a morning flight can lead to even more peace of mind in the age of flight tracking. Airlines now have features that allow passengers to see where the plane for their upcoming flight is coming from and when it arrives at their departure airport. So if you have a 6 a.m. flight out of Houston, for instance, you can see that the plane arrived from Chicago around 11 p.m. the night before.

Experts agree there's really one best time to fly to maximize your travel experience and cut costs.
Igor Alecsander via Getty Images
Experts agree there's really one best time to fly to maximize your travel experience and cut costs.

The best time to fly to reduce costs.

It turns out dragging yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn can save you money in addition to potential hassle.

“Early morning flights before 8 or 9 a.m. tend to be cheaper than those later in the day,” Dengler noted. “Demand is such a major factor affecting flight prices, and most people do not want to take very early morning flights despite them usually being cheaper and less likely to be canceled or delayed.”

In addition to lower fares, booking early morning flights could save you money on the hotel or Ubers you’d have to pay for if you were on an afternoon or evening flight that got canceled when it was too late to find an alternative itinerary for the same day.

Another aspect that could add to your travel cost is parking. If you’re planning to drive yourself to the airport, an early flight can be advantageous in that regard as well.

“Early morning flights are the best time to fly as they are the least likely to get delayed since the weather is usually calmer and the rest of the air traffic is quiet,” said Harrison Woods, CEO of YourParkingSpace. “It’s also worth considering that airport parking prices do fluctuate and can vary due to demand, so it’s best to try to park during a quieter period. So taking this into consideration when booking flights, perhaps choosing to book during the week and early morning, will guarantee availability and the lowest prices.”

The best time to fly for a better flight experience.

Sticking to a morning departure time might also make for an overall more comfortable in-flight experience.

Studies have also found that summer thunderstorms are more likely to develop in the afternoon, and even year-round, so conventional wisdom holds that turbulence is less common in the morning.

In addition to a potentially smoother flight, there’s also a sense of comfort in being on a plane that had a longer amount of time for cleaning and sanitizing. As noted, the aircraft used for morning flights typically arrive the previous night, so they don’t undergo the rushed turnaround between flights that you see in tight midday stops.

“Booking the first flight of the day might come with an early wakeup call, but you’ll have a clean plane and fresh crew,” said Melanie Lieberman, managing editor for global features at The Points Guy.

Of course, flight attendants are professionals, but everyone in the working world knows there’s a difference in mental capacity and mindset at the beginning of a work day versus the end of a long and tiring shift. The morning flight is typically a flight attendant’s first gig of the day, so it often comes after they’ve had a chance to sleep and refresh, which adds to the calmer environment.

The best time to fly in terms of convenience.

Many aspects of convenience come down to traveler preference, but there’s an argument to be made for morning flights from a scheduling perspective as well.

“I like arriving at or right before the hotel check-in time, which is usually around 2 or 3 p.m.,” said travel expert and author La Carmina. “If I took a red-eye and arrived at the destination in the morning, then I’d be exhausted yet unable to check into my hotel room until hours later. I also find that I adjust best to the time difference after a morning flight. When I arrive, I’ll take it easy and go to bed at a reasonable hour, and I usually feel quite rested by the next day.”

The lines at airports tend to be less overwhelming in the morning, which creates a more relaxing check-in and security experience.

“This is when the airport is usually quieter and has shorter wait times for security lines,” travel blogger Sean Lau explained. “You won’t have to deal with the crowds and can get through the airport much more stress-free.”

And if you arrive at your destination in the late morning or early afternoon, you have almost a full day ahead of you to acclimate to the new destination or return to your normal routine at home.

That’s not to say there aren’t disadvantages, like getting less sleep or having fewer airport food options. But the key is to determine what your priorities are.

“If your objective is to save money, you may need to fly at some inopportune times,” said travel blogger Rocky Trifari. “Having some flexibility is one of the easiest ways to save money while booking travel plans. If you have a limited amount of time for a trip, then you may want to maximize your time at your destination by booking the earliest flight out.”

Flying early in the morning isn’t always an option, but if you can swing it, this choice might make the air travel experience feel much more worth your while.

Need some more great travel tricks? Check out these 35 travel items that frequent fliers swear by.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

An airplane footrest that loops over your tray table
Promising review: "I’m a flight attendant and I travel A LOT! This is a game changer! Folds up super small in the cute bag they provide and really makes a difference when on those long flights. The people in front of me had no idea I was using it. Thanks for the great product!!!" —sarah rubin
A weighted sleep mask
Promising review: "I am a flight attendant and have a wacky work schedule. I frequently have to sleep during the day. These are SO comfortable and cool as well. I have ordered and tried out at least 10 eye masks off of Amazon and have found these to be the best. They are SO comfortable and do not have Velcro on the straps, for which I am thankful, because I usually sleep on my back and am sensitive to the thickness of eye masks that have the Velcro straps." —sw
A Samsonite roller bag
Promising review: "If you are a consultant and struggle carrying big carry-ons. This is a perfect one for you. I love this purchase!!! Light weight. Enough space for one to three days of travel. Thank you!" —SS
Pedialyte powder packets
These will work in a pinch. I bought them a few years ago to take on a bachelorette party to New Orleans, and everyone in the Airbnb was grateful I did. Since then, I've always had them in my carry-on bag when going on a trip. They REALLY came in handy when I went to the Greek islands for 10 days with an apparent mission to eat every piece of seafood and cheese within sight while washing it down with jugs of wine. These are powder in small individual packets, so they're so easy to pack! And also you don't have to lug around a bottle of Gatorade to feel better.

Promising review:
"I always have it with me. I travel a lot and I’m super busy so I will forget to drink enough water (I live in a VERY hot climate) so these drink packets save the day often." —ashley v
A hands-free (rotating!) phone mount
Promising review: "I fly a lot and wanted a compact stand. This works well." —Angela Hellebush
An Airfly wireless transmitter that'll let you connect your Airpods
Promising review: "I fly a lot, and bought this due to disliking corded headphones, as either the cable line breaks during flight, and/or gets tangled up. I just recently flew four times last week and used them for the in-flight entertainment, and did not have one issue. I also use these in the gym while connected to my iPhone for music. And I plan to use them on my PC at work for meetings." —Marky
A portable door lock that'll attach to any regular old door
Check it out in action on TikTok here.

Promising review: I’m a flight attendant and swear I live in hotel rooms and needed extra security, and these seem to be the talk in the airline world so I order myself two. It took me a YouTube video to figure out how to install them and yes very easy and very secure. Safe sleeping is important and I’m glad I have these." —Elizabeth C. Breton
A portable safe you can secure to a beach chair
After putting this in MANY travel stories, I bought one for myself for a summer European vacation where I found myself at several beach clubs. It was perfect for keeping mine and my friend's belongings safe while we dozed in our beach chairs or swam in the sea. Plus, it's the perfect size to hold phones or wallets, and easily carry in your beach or tote bag.

Promising review: "This safe has become a MUST-HAVE on all our vacations. We no longer travel without it. We put two iPhones, cash, and car keys in this little safe, locked it to a beach cabana, threw a towel over it and took off for a hour of snorkeling. Never once worried about our belongings. We now use several of these as room safes AND as 'hide a key' lockboxes outside our vacation condo for teens who come and go throughout the day. They are invaluable!" —KeepIT Reel
A bendy travel pillow for helping you sit upright in the most awkward of positions
Promising review: "I’m a flight attendant and I travel with this pillow all the time! In hotel rooms I use it to support my neck, on the plane I use it to support my lumbar area. When I drive it helps my lower back. I love that it has a liner that can be removed to wash. I bought my boyfriend one too and it goes everywhere we do!" —Debbie
A digital luggage scale
Promising review: "We use this in every trip to avoid paying for extra weight as we travel internationally quite often. I have tested in several ways and also always note the weigh number in the airport. After several trips, I can say that the accuracy of it is right within 2 lbs. I have it for almost two years and I am still using the same batteries." —Cass Young
A set of Sea Bands
Promising review: "My car sickness has been getting worse for years. I drive often with my family back to my hometown about five hours away. I put these on and was finally able to ride without constantly fighting nausea. They fit comfortably and I quickly forgot they were on. This feels like a simple, cost efficient fix." —Breya Porter
Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed
A pocket-sized, refillable travel perfume atomizer
That's me pumping my signature perfume into one of these travel atomizers I've been using for about a year. As the reviewer down below mentions, it's great to just throw in your purse on the reg for a fragrance re-up throughout the day. As you can see, it's about the size of my thumb and therefore takes up very little room. Plus! It's smaller than most rollerball travel fragrances you can pick up. This first one is working so well, that I just have the other three in storage. But if this one bites the dust this summer during travels, I'll be OK about digging into my stores to use one of the remaining three...especially at this price point.

Promising review: "I bought these due to traveling a lot for work and needing to cut down on the size of things in my carry-on bag for flying. I can bring four different perfumes now instead of one big one. They’re super easy to fill, haven’t leaked so far but I keep them in a sandwich baggie while traveling just in case. I would 100% buy them again." —Emily Rintamaki
A collection of compression packing cubes
Again, just be sure to look up any weight restrictions on carry-on luggage. I ran into that problem last summer (it was in Croatia while flying British Airways, btw), but the person at the airport check-in counter that gave me some trouble about my bag just seemed to care about my roller carry-on. So I'd suggest using these in a backpack or tote bag you plan to put under the seat.

Promising review: "I'm a flight attendant. Great for my 4–5 days trips when I need to pack extra!" —Amazon Customer
A Trtl travel pillow
Promising review: "As a flight attendant for a major airline I have heard from passengers how much they like this pillow. So I ordered it...I LOVE IT. I lost my U-shaped memory foam pillow recently so I thought I would give this a try. It's smaller than a U-shape pillow and easy to pack up. Lots of fun colors to match your outfits. But most of all it works. It's cheap enough to give it a just do it." —Franny

Ciera Velarde, an editor here at BuzzFeed, also loves this. She says: "I've used this for the past few years and swear by it! Before this, I always found traditional neck pillows uncomfortable and would end up ditching them halfway through the flight and getting frustrated. The Trtl pillow is adjustable — you wrap the pillow around your neck and secure it with Velcro, and if you find it's too loose, just make it a bit tighter! I've truly never slept better on a plane than with this pillow."
Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed
A handmade leather cord organizer
After putting this well-reviewed item in stories for YEARS, I finally bought one for myself because I'm one of those AirPod holdouts who's still managed to stick with the wired OGs. But! That means that I've clocked too much time untangling said wires. This little leather square with a buttoned strap is so simple, but works so well. I can easily throw it in a jeans pocket but most often put it in a jacket or coat pocket for my everyday. I do the same when traveling. It takes me about 10 seconds to unravel (or re-ravel) my headphones and I'm on my merry way listening to my fave podcasts or Spotify playlist. For such a small amount of money, it really does make my day to day much easier.

Promising review: "I travel a lot — well, used to. I'm also one of the last people with wired buds. Every time, my ear buds would be a tangled mess. No matter how I tried to keep them wrapped or organized. This gaget is the perfect solution. It's compact, and takes seconds to get your buds wrapped up." —Susan Rahn
Satin pillowcases that I own and love
Promising review: "I travel for work and having this case has helped so much with my hair and it’s great quality, I have washed it so many times and yet it’s durable and comfy." —Maritza Cruz
Tide sink packets with the perfect amount of detergent for a sink wash
Each pack comes with three packets. And, because they are liquid, they'll easily slide into the side of your toiletries bag. I've packed these on international trips to much success.

Promising review: "I have taken these packets on travels throughout the world. They are small and fit in my bag. They are good for a wash in a sink or wash bag. ... They don’t leak either." —Barbara Jefferson
A pack of laundry soap sheets
I travel just about any chance that I get and found a WHOLE lot of success with these little laundry sheets on an almost–three weeks European vacation this summer where I carried on–only and rewore outfits several times.

Promising review: "This came SO in handy during my vacation to Europe! I was making lots of different stops to places with different types of weather. With these laundry soap sheets I was able to wash my clothes in the sink — letting me pack just the right amount of clothes for all the different places I went." —Katie Fujarski
A TSA-friendly toiletries set
I own and love this set. It includes the zippered bag, four soft silicone bottles with leakproof caps, three compact jars, an two toothbrush caps. I've used this set on more than five trips and and for trips when I don't require body wash or shampoo (like to visit my parents) I use the extra room in the bag to shove in all my beauty products and daily contacts. Plus! It comes with labels that stay on the containers really well despite my thoroughly washing these containers between trips. I bought this set in spring 2019 and have, admittedly, lost a container or two. But the ones that I've held onto over dozens of trips have all held up well

Promising review: "This set is perfect for traveling. Was looking for a set to use for work (flight attendant). I use the bottles for lotion, body wash, hair oil, and shampoo. None of them have leaked yet and I love that it comes with a bag just in case. The only negative is that sometimes you need to unscrew the cap to puff the bottles back out after you squeeze them, but doesn’t really bother me. It’s a quick fix. Easy to fill/refill." —Kandice222
Or if you're not in need of containers, a clear TSA-approved toiletry bag
Promising review: "This is a game changer. I work in consulting and travel 50–75% of the time for my job. I've burned through many a quart baggie over the last few years and dozens of flights. It's nearly impossible to use the full volume of a quart baggie without breaking the zipper, and this toiletry bag allows me to bring about 150% of what I was able to fit in my crappy press-and-seal bags.

I do not regret this purchase one bit, and have already recommended it to several friends and family members." —Ainsley H.
And a waterproof pouch
It fits any phone up to 100 mm x 170 mm (or about 3.9 inches x 6.7 inches). It also keeps out sand, dirt, and rain.

Promising review: "I bought this because I do a lot of water sports when I travel and it was amazing!!! I had no problems with it the actual pouch detaching from the lanyard when I went snorkeling and my phone stayed completely dry. The touch capability is also great." —TJ
Single serving Cafe Bustelo instant coffee packets
Promising review: "We travel on a motorcycle and these are great, take up hardly any room, and I like the flavor. A win-win for me. I will be buying more for sure." —gman
A mini lightweight flat iron
It also comes with a heat-resistant pouch for easy carrying.

Promising review: "This fits perfectly in my toiletries travel bag that I take with me as a flight attendant. Anything that comes in small size and still works well is perfect for me." —Kathy S
A wheeled carry-on bag small enough to qualify as a personal item on super stringent airlines
Now you won't even have to pull your suitcase outta the overhead.

Promising review: "This works out so well for me. I’m a flight attendant, and I’ve had an infinite amount of day trips over the summer. I got tired of carrying around my regular TravelPro spinner, so I finally ordered this. SOOOOO MUCH BETTER FOR ME. It’s light, has enough pockets, and can easily fit under a seat if needed.

The ONLY picky thing I can think of is how loud it sounds going across rough concrete. The wheels aren’t as silent as others, but that won’t stop me from buying another in the future." —Kayla T
A trifold travel wallet
The wallet has a passport pocket, boarding pass compartment, three credit card slots, an ID slot, a slim card pouch, slim pocket, a ticket slot, a cellphone pouch, a coin zippered pocket, key holder, and pen holder.

Promising review: "I got this wallet because I’ve spent a lot of the last year traveling and wanted something a bit more compact with the ability to hold all I need and still kinda stylish. I absolutely love this wallet!! I use it every time I travel, especially in the airport because I can fit both my boarding pass and passport if needed in this wallet, which I can’t do in my everyday wallet. This wallet is super handy and not nearly as bulky as my regular wallet. I would recommend it to anyone who travels often or when they do, travels great distances." —Jordan Couch
A packing list pad
Promising review: "If you travel often for business or pleasure this is the list for you! It helps me to plan ahead for my trips and even has a cute little section to write in the number of days and weather for my destination! This list has become essential for every trip I take!" —Kpille1

Get it from Amazon for $6.73 (available in 15 colors)
A simple luggage strap
Promising review: "I love this! I'm a flight attendant and I use it to strap my work sweater to my luggage so I don't have to carry it around. In the wintertime I can use it to strap my coat to my bag. Now my husband wants one." —Lauren Carter
An electronics organizer
Promising review: "I am a flight attendant and I LOVE this organizer! I keep my iPad, passport, cords, paperwork, and hand sanitizer in here. It keeps me organized! Definitely recommend to anyone who travels and needs to keep organized." —amazonislife
A luggage-mounted cup caddy
Promising review: "So handy. We travel all the time, and this is perfect for holding drinks while we are at the airport. Love it." —Bruce V. Hartley
A lightweight, compact, and high-speed portable charger
This highly-rated slim option holds about 2.25 charges for iPhone 12, 1.6 charges for Galaxy S20, and 1.2 charges for iPad Mini 5 and comes with a Micro USB cable (to charge the charger) and a travel pouch.

Promising review: "Very handy! I’m a flight attendant and travel a lot. This has come in handy on the airplane and in the airport. Perfect size and lightweight." —Rae
A memory foam seat cushion
Lots of reviewers who drive for a living rave about it.

Promising review: "I drive a truck and suffer from sciatica. After a few days, I began to feel relief. I highly recommend this to anyone who suffers from sciatica." —lou jones
A water bottle that's collapsible, refillable, and leakproof
Promising review: "We travel a lot. I love that it can be rolled up." —Jayanthi Carter
Or a water bottle with a Brita filter
Promising review: "Holy moly. How did I live my life without this. I have always had a Brita container in my fridge, but I’m not home a lot. I travel and work, and am at school but no matter where I am, I have clean, fresh tasting water. My only regret is that I did not buy it sooner. Awesome product." —Alexa Lyles
A resealable travel-size pack of antibacterial wipes
Promising review: "As a flight attendant I always need wipes. These small packs are great for putting in your purse and having on the go. The bundle pack is a great value. " —SJ1326
A mini-steamer to keep you looking super pulled together once you get to where you're going
This steamer's incredibly useful: it heats up in about 90 seconds, steams about five garments before needing refilled, and is all around perfect for anyone who doesn't want to wait too long or work too hard to get the wrinkles out.

Promising review: "This steamer is very compact, easy to use, and well-made. I am a flight attendant so this has helped my life tremendously. I never even pick up an iron anymore. It works extremely well on my uniform and also just to get wrinkles out of my clothes while on layovers. The best part is that it doesn't take up too much space in my bag. I hate ironing with a passion, so I am so glad that I found this product!" —Amazon Customer

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