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Flights to California overview

Going searches for the best fares and sends members deals bookable 1-12 months in advance. Going members save approximately 43% compared to normal flight prices to California.

Cheapest Going deal


Average price roundtrip


Average Going deal price roundtrip


Best month to fly

Going found the most deals with travel dates in May.


Worst month to fly

Going found the least deals with travel dates in July.


Top tips for finding a cheap flight to California

Book in the Goldilocks Window

The Goldilocks Window is what we call the time period that’s not too soon before a trip, not too late. For domestic flights, that means booking 1-3 months before a trip. For international flight, you have a bit more leeway, from 2-8 months.

Summer is peak travel time in California, and last-minute deals are hard to find during the busy travel season. If you’re flying from within the US, start looking for summer travel flights in February or March. If you’re visiting from abroad, start planning your trip in December. Whatever you do, try to book before the 21, 14, and 7 days ahead of your planned dates. We’ve seen prices consistently jump on those dates.

Use the Greek Islands Trick

The Greek Islands Trick is the tip we use to get to the Greek Islands, which are often expensive. Basically, you fly to the closest European city you can find for a good price, then take a budget airline for the last leg. This trick can work in the US, too.

If you’re flying to LA or San Francisco, the cheapest flight is probably the one that goes to that city. But if you’re trying to visit somewhere smaller, like Santa Rosa, Monterey, or Santa Barbara, you could save money by looking at other nearby airports. The airports in those areas are small and can be expensive to fly into, but if you fly into San Francisco or San Jose, you can rent a car and drive to Santa Rosa or Monterey. Similarly, you could save money by flying into LA and taking the train or driving to Santa Barbara.

Search alternative departure airports

If you live in New York, you probably regularly look for flights out of Newark. But have you ever thought about airports farther away, like Boston or Philadelphia? Or what about even farther, like Chicago? We see shockingly cheap fares from all sorts of airports, and if you’re only looking at your home airport you could miss out on big deals.

Start with airports you can reach by car, but don’t discount airports a short flight away, especially if your closest airport has limited options. If you see a great deal from Chicago to Los Angeles, say $200 round trip, it could be worth booking another $200 flight from New York to Chicago. It requires more planning and logistics but could save you a boatload of money, especially if you’re traveling in high season.

Fly when it’s cheaper

Summer is one of the busiest travel periods in California, and for good reason. Kids are on summer break, and California has great beaches. But busy travel periods mean airlines can charge more for tickets.

If you can travel during shoulder season, you can find great deals. That’s April–June or September–October for LA and San Diego, and April–June for San Francisco. For even lower prices, travel during the winter, which is also a great time to visit if you’re planning to explore museums and restaurants without crowds.

If traveling outside of the high season isn’t an option, look for fares on what are usually the cheapest days to fly: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Unsurprisingly, Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive days to fly.

Set alerts for specific trips

Fare alerts are a great way to save time and effort on tracking flight deals. Simply set an alert for your travel dates to California, and you’ll get an email when fares drop to a specific range. Do this well in advance, before the Goldilocks Window, so you can get alerts for the best deals. If your travel dates are flexible, set multiple alerts for different dates or locations, or sign up for Going and we’ll monitor all flights from your home airport and let you know when we find the best deals.

California has nearly two dozen airports and you can find direct flights from most major and mid-size cities. No matter where you’re flying from in the US, you can reach large California cities like LA, San Francisco, San Diego, and more with just one connection.

Frequently asked questions about flying to California

When is high season in California?

Summer is the high season throughout California, likely because schools are out and it’s the peak travel time for most US travelers. Beaches like those in Santa Monica and San Diego get especially busy in the summer. But different parts of the state get busy during other times of the year, too.

The high season in wine country is August through October, which coincides with harvest season at the wineries. This is also a popular time to visit San Francisco, which sees warmer weather in the early fall than in the summer. Then there are the major events, like Coachella (in the Coachella Valley in April), San Francisco Pride (June), the Rose Bowl (early January), Comic-Con (in San Diego in July), and more. If you’re planning to visit for a major event, look for flights well in advance. And if you’re planning a trip in general, check to see whether any big events are happening that could impact your flight prices. And like any US city, flights can be expensive over holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when people travel to see family.

When is the best time to visit California?

Weather in California is nice year-round, but if you’re hoping for a beach vacation, June-August is the best time to visit Southern California. Northern California sees the best weather from August to October. The best weather coincides with the busiest time to travel. That said, it’s never really cold in most of California. If you’re planning to visit cities and don’t need a beach, visit during the off-season, like January and February, when crowds are smaller and flights are cheaper.

How many airports are in there in California?

There are more than 20 airports in California, serving major hubs and smaller cities. The most popular airports are Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Diego International Airport (SAN), Sacramento International Airport (SMF), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and San José Mineta International Airport (SJC). You can find flights from most medium and large US cities to these airports. Other, smaller airports also serve popular tourist destinations, like Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, Palm Springs International Airport, and California Redwood Coast–Humboldt County Airport.

Which city in California is the easiest to get to?

From most medium-sized US cities, you can find direct flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and many cities also have direct flights to San Diego. You can reach most cities in California with one connection or by flying into a nearby city with an airport and renting a car.

What are the rules for traveling with pets to California?

If you are traveling from within the US, you’ll need to follow the rules for the airports you’re flying in and out of. Most airlines require animals to be kept in carriers during transit. Additionally, California has rules for pets arriving from other states. Dogs must be healthy, have documentation of vaccines, and have a certificate of health from a veterinarian. Cats must be healthy.

If you’re visiting California from outside of the US, you’ll have to follow the rules set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These guidelines vary depending on the type of pet you have, but in general, pets are required to have vaccinations and certain documentation.

How long is the flight to California?

California is a large state, so the flight time really depends on where you’re departing from and where in California you’re visiting. Flights from New York and around the Northeast take about 6 hours, whether you’re flying to San Francisco or LA.

Flights from Miami, Atlanta, and elsewhere in the Southeast take anywhere from 5.5 hours to 7.5 hours, depending on where you’re flying. From Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest, and Texas and other places in the South, flights to LA and San Francisco range from 3.5 to 4.5 hours. From Arizona and around the Southwest, flights to LA and San Diego are about 1.5 hours, and to San Francisco, they’re about 2 hours. From Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, flights range from 2-3 hours depending on where in California you’re flying.

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Airline slip-ups we've caught to California


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* Prices are per person and include all taxes & fees in USD. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing, however, prices are not guaranteed, as airline pricing can change by the minute. Average Going fares are based on average prices of deals found by Going.

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