Planning a trip, whether a weekend getaway or a two-week-long trip abroad, is an exciting process. That is until you go to book your flight. How do you know if you’re getting the best deal? When should you pull the trigger? It can easily make a pleasant experience into one that makes you sweat bullets.
However, you can take some practical steps to ease your worry when searching for airline tickets. We’ll walk you through our best tips to find cheap flights, including the best day to book them.
When is the best time to book a flight?
There are a lot of factors that influence flight prices. In general, however, the best day to book a cheap flight is on a Sunday. Research from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation indicates that this is the day to find the cheapest fares for both domestic and international flights.
Does the day of the week really affect flight prices?
Yes, it really does. The day you purchase your ticket can influence your final airfare cost quite heavily. For domestic flights, buying on a day other than a Sunday or a Saturday could result in a price increase between 8% and 27%.
The difference is even more significant with international tickets. You can expect to pay 15% to a whopping 120% more when you book on a different day of the week. So, you should definitely make an effort to book your flight on a weekend, especially if you’re traveling abroad.
What is the best time to buy airline tickets?
There’s a traveler’s myth going around that major airlines like to send out online sale alerts on Monday nights, which then go into effect on Tuesday mornings. While this may be true occasionally, it’s not a consistent way of searching for the best flight deals. Plus, the Expedia/ARC report looked at flight prices for an entire year, so the argument for booking on a Sunday takes into account any last-minute airfare sales.
If you’re thinking about a specific flight or want to start tracking prices, sign up for a flight monitoring email alert and be ready to buy tickets when you see prices drop. That covers all your bases, especially if you have well over a month before your trip.
There are e-alert services that send results for all flights departing your home airport, or you could sign up for the specific carrier that flies out of your airport to the city you’re traveling to.
By tracking prices in advance of your trip, you’ll have a better idea of what’s a good deal and what’s worth passing. Then you’ll also be the first to know about any Tuesday sales (or those happening on any other day of the week).
Plus, the same flight can fluctuate in price multiple times leading up to the date of departure. So start tracking early to understand the average. Then, you can jump on a great opportunity when it arises.
What’s the most expensive day to book a flight?
The answer to this question is Friday. If you’re going to book a flight, it’s best to do it on any other day of the week. Some people hypothesize that the price surge comes from business travelers booking last-minute trips before heading home for the weekend.
Whatever the reason, Friday is the most expensive day of the week to book flights in the U.S. and most other countries as well. The data applies to both domestic and international trips when looking at economy class tickets.
What is the best day of the week to depart?
It’s generally best to depart on a weekday, rather than the weekend, if you want to find the cheapest airfare. Airlines often offer lower fares on flights that depart on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because these are typically less popular travel days.
If you have the flexibility to choose your departure day, it may be worth it to book your flight for one of these days to save money. It’s also worth noting that the day of the week that you return can also affect the price of your airfare.
In general, it’s usually cheapest to return on the same day of the week that you depart. For example, if you depart on a Tuesday, it will often be cheapest to return on the following Tuesday.
What’s the cheapest month to fly?
If you’re trying to determine the most budget-friendly time of year to plan a trip, consider the cheapest and most expensive months for airplane travel. The results depend on whether you’re staying stateside or traveling abroad.
If your destination is somewhere in the U.S., the best and worst travel periods revolve around the school year. Once Labor Day hits and kids are back in class, airfare drops, making September the best month to fly. When school lets out, prices increase again, with June the most expensive time of year for a domestic trip.
When departing from the U.S., research suggests that February is the least expensive month to fly. The holidays are over, people have spent a lot of money and vacation time, so demand is lower. Not surprisingly, December is reported as the most expensive month to fly since people presumably travel to meet family and friends for the holiday season.
More Tips for Booking the Cheapest Flights
Getting your flight scheduled using the best days to book and depart is a smart way to find cheap flight deals. There are also a few other tactics you can use to minimize the cost of flying.
Buy Your Ticket in Advance
You should aim to buy your ticket at least 30 days before your trip, which means you should start tracking prices before then. Ideally, begin your ticket search up to three months ahead of time for both domestic and international flights. If you’re booking a last-minute flight within a few weeks of your departure date, expect to pay quite a bit more.
Set up Airfare Alerts
Remember to set up an airfare alert for your travel destination to find the lowest fares. This is especially important when booking flights that lead up to a holiday because ticket prices can escalate so quickly.
Watch Out for Fees
Don’t forget to consider different fees associated with flying since these can vary significantly from airline to airline. Even if your ticket price is low, your total cost can quickly add up when you include baggage fees and even fees for picking a seat next to your travel companion. Look at joining customer loyalty programs or travel credit card rewards programs to help offset some of these costs.
You may not be able to control the cost associated with traveling. But, by using a bit of strategy and giving yourself plenty of time to shop for the best deals, you can easily save big on your next flight. Just remember to book and depart on the best days of the week to stretch your dollar as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cheaper to book a flight on a weekday or weekend?
It’s typically cheaper to book flights on a weekday, rather than the weekend. This is because fewer people are searching for flights on weekdays, so there is less competition for the available seats.
Can I save money by booking a flight on a holiday?
It’s generally not a good idea to book flights on a holiday, as demand is usually high and prices are often higher as a result. It’s typically better to book your flight a few days before or after a holiday.
Is it true that the earlier I book a flight, the cheaper it will be?
In general, it is true that the earlier you book a flight, the more likely you are to get a good deal. However, this is not always the case, as prices can fluctuate for a variety of reasons.
How far in advance should I book a domestic flight?
It’s typically best to book a domestic flight at least two to three weeks in advance to get the best price. However, if you are booking last minute, you may still be able to find a good deal if you are flexible with your travel dates.
How far in advance should I book an international flight?
To get the best price on an international flight, it is generally advisable to book three to six months in advance. But again, if you book last minute, your travel dates may still allow you to find a good deal.
Is it better to book a round trip or one-way flight?
Booking a round trip flight is usually cheaper than booking two one-way flights. However, if you are unsure of your return travel dates or are only planning to stay at your destination for a short time, a one-way flight may be the better option.
Is it cheaper to book a flight through a travel agent or online?
It’s almost always cheaper to book flights online, as you can easily compare prices from different airlines and travel booking websites. However, if you are planning a complex itinerary or need help with other aspects of your trip, such as hotel bookings or car rentals, a travel agent may be able to help you save money.
Can I save money by booking a flight with a layover?
In general, flights with layovers are typically cheaper than nonstop flights. However, layovers can be inconvenient, as they can add extra travel time to your trip.
What factors can affect the price of my flight?
There are many factors that can affect the price of a flight, including the time of year, the demand for seats on a particular route, the availability of seats, the price of fuel, and the competition between airlines. Try to be flexible with your travel dates and compare prices from multiple airlines to find the best deal.