Insider Secret: The Cheapest Day to Buy Airline Tickets

I travel a lot and I get asked a lot “What day is the best day for me to purchase my airline tickets?”. Which? has revealed that Tuesday is in fact the cheapest day of the week best days to buy airline tickets One thing that can make your desired flight tickets cheaper is depending on what days you will be flying. Anyone focused to keep the cost of their vacation down should know that the day you choose to fly can make a significant difference to the price of your ticket. Shopping for air travel can be both confusing and frustrating — airline ticket prices change frequently (with seemingly no particular rhyme or reason). Let’s face it — your time is too valuable to be laboring over a computer screen for hours searching for a great deal.

Cheapest Day to Fly in the USA – Wednesday

FareCompare.com did an in-depth study of their proprietary historical airfare database (world’s largest) and pinpointed the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday for domestic travel (gory details at the link). Wednesday is one of the three cheapest days, the others are Tuesday and Saturday (Friday and Sunday the most expensive days to travel). The cheapest day to travel internationally are a bit different — we are working on this research and it should be up shortly. The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning – yes, that means you have to get up at 4am. Next best times are flights during/after lunch and flights at the dinner hour (of course the absolute cheapest time to fly is on those limited routes with red eyes).

Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets – Tuesday 3pm Eastern

Another of their studies shows that the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for travel (domestically) is Tuesday at 3pm Eastern – yes shopping on Tuesday is the the best time to buy airline tickets, but be careful as most of these discounted airfare are pulled on Thursdays, so your probably paying too much if buying on the weekends. Here’s why: usually, when an airline wants to launch a sale, it will do so late Monday. When the other airlines see this, they immediately go into competitive mode, and begin lowering their own prices to match the first one’s sale. All the airlines that plan to join in on this “matching” will have completed the process by early Tuesday afternoon, so by 3 p.m., shoppers will have the most “good prices” to choose from.

But searching through the net in hunt for more wisdom you will find that the tips and tricks are different from site to site. For the airlines, it’s about getting you to pay the most you’re willing to pay. On a single flight there can be more than a dozen pricing categories and on a 150-seat plane, there could be 50 different prices. Passengers pay the lowest price, nearly 6 percent below the average fare, if they buy six weeks before their flight, according to a study by the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). After compiling data from every U.S. travel agency over the last four years, it determined that most people booked the cheapest airline tickets 42 days in advance. But the six-week rule isn’t necessarily a surefire strategy for snagging the cheapest fare. “This is just a trend,” explains Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of data and analytics. “Airlines will make valuable deals available all the time. But, on average, we see this 42-day approach works.” Because of the predominance of business travelers, Mondays and Fridays are generally considered the more expensive days to fly. Mid-week tickets, Tue-Thu are mostly cheaper, but any differences will depend on route and how far in advance the booking is made.

Monday night is when most air fare discounts are launched. Tuesday is the day people purchase the most airline tickets. Wednesday is also a good day to buy airline tickets but by the Thursday and Fridays most of the tickets are sold.

In the end, to sum it all up, In general the airfare is cheapest:

* When flying Tuesday-Wednesday
* When flying at odd hours (early in the morning, late at night, red eye flights) – however this depends on the airline.
* When booking tickets at least six weeks in advance
* Monday night is when most air fare discounts are launched.
* Tuesday is the day people purchase the most airline tickets.

When you search for fares, indicate that your dates are flexible, and most websites will show comparison rates for different days.

One Comment

  1. Great post! Airline discounts seem to be few and far between these days, this post is very helpful. I vacation all the time using the awesome vacation club through wakeupnow. Others pay thousands for what members get for a couple hundred bucks.