The Real Reasons You Should Always Book an Early Morning Flight

Flying early could help you avoid stress and cancellations—not to mention save you money.

Waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight has its upsides.
Waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight has its upsides. / Jetlinerimages, E+, Getty Images

Flying is stressful, no matter when you decide to do it. While you probably already know that it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to make it to your gate, what time of day you book your flight for can have a major impact on your travel experience, too. 

Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks report reveals why boarding a plane that’s taking off on the earlier side can really pay off, as flights after 3:00 p.m. have a whopping 50 percent higher chance of being canceled compared to morning trips. And travel experts tend to agree. “Early morning flights are the best time to fly as they are the least likely to get delayed,” Harrison Woods, CEO of YourParkingSpace, told HuffPost. “The weather is usually calmer and the rest of the air traffic is quiet.”

There are a number of things that contribute to their high completion factor, which is a flight’s on-time arrival rate over a set period of time. Airplanes being used for the first trips of the day have typically been sitting in an airport overnight, so they’re all cleaned, sanitized, and ready to go. Another upside? It’s usually a flight attendant’s first trip of the day, so they might be more energized and refreshed.

As Woods mentioned, air traffic is another tipping point, because as the day goes on, it can take a longer time for air traffic controllers to clear arriving flights for landing, which builds up the number of planes lining up to take off. By flying in the late afternoon or evening, not only are you more likely to face delays and/or cancellations, but your chances of catching a new flight on that same day if one of those scenarios happens are slim.

But those aren’t the only reasons why it makes sense to get up early on flight days. Demand can have a major impact on prices, and most folks tend to avoid plane rides at the crack of dawn. According to travel experts, being willing to rise with the sun puts you at a distinct cost advantage. If planes depart before 9 a.m., travelers can save even more when it comes to pricey, long-haul international flights, which are, on average, significantly cheaper than those happening in the early afternoon. 

If you’re prepping for an early morning trip, there are a few simple ways you can make your experience more enjoyable. Dehydration can be a risk factor when you’re up in the air, so be sure to drink plenty of water (whatever you do, just don’t refill your cup with water from the airplane’s bathroom). Traveling with a tennis ball is another good travel hack, especially if your muscles get stiff at high altitudes. Combined with a little extra space to stretch out—which you can get by booking on an airline that gives you plenty of legroom—you’ll likely have a great flight from gate to gate, no matter what time you take off. 

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