For years, travel experts suggested that Tuesdays were the best days of the week to buy airline tickets. However, that's no longer true. Today, it's not just the day of the week but the number of days before your trip that determines the cost of airfare. Creatures of habit tend to have strong opinions about the best time to take care of certain tasks, but when it comes to booking flights and saving money, any day is the right day.
Searching Often is the Key to Lower Ticket Prices
Some say the secret to snagging low airfare prices is by purchasing tickets on a particular day. This magical day, however, changes from time to time based on projected airline trends. The latest research pegs weekends as the best time to find deals on airfare, although deals can occur virtually any time as airlines adjust prices as they see fit.
Sunday is the Best Day to Book Flights
Recent research from Expedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation shows Sunday as the day when airfare discounts are most likely. Their joint report, New Heights for Air Travel, studied 2016 global air-travel data to predict the best days to buy tickets, as well as the pricing based on how far ahead a flight is booked. Compared to other days of the week, booking on Sundays results in plane tickets costing at least 10 percent less than average prices for the same flight, according to the study. If you're shopping for a cheap flight, make sure to check out the options on a Sunday, but don't expect to see dramatic drops in flight price.
Check Flight Prices Frequently
Although Sunday tends to be the day for deals, a discounted price on airfare can show up at any time. Search for flight options several days in a row to note any price changes, as airlines tend to tweak prices quite a bit. Start looking for round-trip flights at least 10 weeks in advance if possible, and sign up to get real-time price alerts when prices change for the itinerary you want. Then you'll have at least a few weeks of data to consider by the time the seven-week window of your travel plans hits.
What About Tuesday?
Tuesday used to be the cheapest day of the week to book airfare. According to airline data research noted in the 2023 Air Travel Hacks report by Expedia, it isn't really the best any more. This doesn't mean Tuesdays should be ruled out of airfare searches, however; a discount can show up virtually any time, especially for travel that isn't near a holiday or peak travel season for the destination.
Forget About Fridays
The same New Heights for Air Travel noted Friday as the worst day to book flights, as far as obtaining a good deal. Let the last-minute business travelers book their seats over the weekend, and hold off on finalizing your own plans until a new week starts to get the best flights. If you’re planning a trip far in advance, checking a price on Friday helps set a benchmark for future comparison on another day. However, don't expect that Paris flight you've been eyeing for spring break to suddenly drop the ticket prices by $100 midweek
Book Well in Advance for Best Deals
Booking a flight at least three weeks in advance typically saves a load of cash. If you're taking an international flight, you'll probably find the lowest prices a little more than two months out from the departure date. Also make sure to plan your domestic flights several weeks early so you can get the travel date and flight deals you want. Booking a flight 21 days or farther out from the departure date can save up to 30 percent compared to the exact same flight options booked closer to the date of departure, according to the study. Don't give up on spontaneity, however. Flying to another continent may yield great deals when booked just days in advance.
If finding cheaper flights is your main concern when booking a trip, focus more on when you plan to fly and less on the current day of the week. You may occasionally find a great last-minute flight for a low price, but generally speaking, you'll get the best deal if you book your ticket about seven weeks before your desired departure date.
To make sure you get the best price available, make a habit of using the price comparison tools offered by booking sites like Expedia, Google Flights, Kayak and Hopper.
A classic travel tip to finding the cheapest flights is to see if your credit card offers travel credits.