Welcome to the wild world of flight booking, where finding the “best day to book flights” can often feel like chasing a mythical creature. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll demystify the complexities of flight booking and equip you with some real-world strategies to navigate the skies without breaking the bank.
The “best day to book flights” is more myth than reality, but certain days may possibly increase your chance to find great deals.
Booking super early doesn’t always get you the best price.
Take off on Tuesdays or Wednesdays if possible.
Waiting for the elusive “perfect” price can sometimes backfire.
Taking advantage of fare comparison websites and fare alerts is the key.
What day of the week is best for booking flights
I hate to burst any bubbles, but let’s get real for a moment. The guidance on when to nab those flight deals often relies on a mix of guesswork, outdated data, and a dash of self-fulfilling prophecies. I don’t want to be Captain Obvious here, but the best day to book flights is pretty simple: it’s when you stumble upon a fantastic deal that fits your budget. And guess what? Those deals can show up at any time, day or night, any day of the week.
Indeed, there’re studies out there pointing specific days of the week as flight booking goldmines, but these studies often leave us confused because they can’t seem to agree on a single best day. Now, don’t get me wrong, these studies have their merits, but they tend to rely on averages, which don’t always tell the full story. Still, it can’t hurt to peek at their findings, just in case it helps you snag that elusive good deal.
1. Tuesday vs Sunday
You’ve probably come across the advice that claims Tuesdays at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. are the magical moments for booking flights. Well, it’s not just a random rumor; it does have some history behind it. Back in the day, airlines often released fare sales and discounts on Monday evenings, and by Tuesday afternoon, other airlines would frequently match these prices. This led to the perception that Tuesday afternoons were a good time to find deals.
However, based on a study conducted by the experts at Google Flights, booking your flights on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday has only resulted in a tiny 1.9% savings over the past five years.
Another contender for the title of “best day” in the flight deal arena is none other than Sunday. According to Expedia, who delved into the depths of millions of flight records and airfare data, savvy travelers can score a neat 5% discount on domestic flights and a whopping 15% off on international journeys on average when they opt for booking on serene Sundays instead of frantic Fridays. Imagine scrolling through countless flight options while sipping your Sunday morning coffee – it’s not just relaxing; it could also be pocket-friendly.
2. Avoid booking flights on the wrong day
While there’s no surefire guarantees that that Tuesday or Sunday will always bring you the best flight deals, you can at least avoid purchasing flights on the wrong day of the week. For example, booking on a Friday might end up tacking on an extra 5% to 15% to your bill, depending on the flight you’re eyeing.
Why’s Friday the culprit? Well, it’s notorious for being the day when people make last-minute travel bookings for a weekend getaway. Plus, business travelers are often snagging flights for the week ahead. All this extra demand can nudge those airfare prices up a notch or two. So, if you’re set on sparing your hard-earned dollars, Fridays might not be your friend when booking flights.
3. Make use of flight booking tools
While you’re on the hunt for the the best day to book flights, it’s important to kind in mind that Airline industry now relies on complex pricing algorithms that take into account various factors, including demand, seat availability, competition, and more. As a result, fare prices can fluctuate frequently throughout the week and even change by the hour. For us travelers, it’s all about outsmarting those algorithms. To snag the best deals, you’ll want to have some tools in your travel arsenal.
You don’t need a crystal ball to find great flight deals; you just need your smartphone and a few trusty apps like Google Flights, Hopper, and Kayak. These apps are like your personal airfare watchdogs. You just plug in your travel dates and where you’re headed, and voilà! They keep tabs on airfare prices for you. So when a fantastic deal appears, your phone sends you a message, and you can swoop in and book that budget-friendly flight.
How far in advance should I book a flight to get the best price?
We’ve delved into the nitty-gritty of short-term flight booking strategies, considering things like the ideal day of the week or the best time of day to score deals. But now, let’s broaden our view and tackle a long-term puzzle: How far in advance should you book your flight ticket?
Don’t book toooooo early
Airlines usually release their flight schedules and tickets around 11 months in advance. Now, if you’re someone who likes to plan well ahead, you might want to pause for a moment. “The earlier you book a flight, the cheaper it will be” is a common belief, but it’s not always true, especially when it comes to snagging a deal on domestic flights.
It might sound a bit counterintuitive, but domestic airfares have often been more expensive in the 3.5 – 6 months before departure. Here’s the scoop: Airlines typically don’t start closely tracking ticket sales if you book several months ahead. This means they haven’t fine-tuned their prices to maximize sales just yet. So, don’t be surprised if the price isn’t as appealing as you’d hoped.
Distinguish between domestic and international flights
So, when’s the sweet spot? First, remember to differentiate between domestic and international flights when it comes to timing your booking; they play by slightly different rules.
If you are booking a flight within the US, the golden window for grabbing the best deals usually opens up about a month before takeoff. That’s around 28 to 35 days in advance when fares tend to be just right.
If you’re thinking about traveling internationally, booking about 6 months ahead can save you a juicy 10% on average compared to those who hold off until the last two months.
Choose the ideal day and time to take off
Aside from when to book your flight ticket, another piece of the travel puzzle is when to take off. It can significantly impact your travel budget and overall experience.
In a nutshell, Tuesdays and Wednesdays typically stand out as a wallet-friendly day for budget-conscious travelers to plan their flights. On the flip side, Friday tends to be the trickiest day for finding affordable flight tickets. According to the Expedia study, taking off on a Wednesday instead of a Sunday or Monday could put up to 15% back in your pocket for domestic travel and up to 10% for international flights.
The logic is pretty straightforward: Most people often choose to travel on Fridays for longer weekend getaways, avoiding work interruptions. Tuesday and Wednesday, nestled in the middle of the workweek, aren’t typically the top choices for travel.
Let’s take a real-life example. Let’s say you’re in New York, dreaming of a December escape to Paris. You hop online and spot a flight with Norse Atlantic Airways for just $185 on Tuesday, December 12.
But if you decide to delay your journey by a mere 3 days and depart on Friday, December 15, the price suddenly soars to $328 for the exact same flight!
Also, if you’re looking to save some bucks, consider steering clear of afternoon flights, as they align well with most people’s schedules, driving up demand and prices. If you adjust your flight schedule to early mornings or evenings (especially early mornings), you’ll often discover better deals during these less crowded periods.
Don’t wait for the perfect price
Airfare can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I’ve been booking flights for years, and one thing I’ve learned is that amidst all the ticket price laws and trends, there’s a simple rule to keep in your back pocket: if you stumble upon a deal today that’s already pretty darn good, and it’s below what you’d be willing to pay, don’t overthink it. Click that “book now” button!
Let me share a story from last year when I was planning a trip back to my hometown. One morning, I checked my phone and saw a price that seemed like a steal. I was excited, ready to book. But then that little voice in my head chimed in, saying, “Hey, what if it gets even cheaper later today?” So, I hesitated. Big mistake! By the afternoon, that sweet deal had transformed into a budget-busting nightmare, nearly doubling in price, and it never dropped back down. To avoid breaking the bank, I had to resort to plan B – flying from a different airport.
When it comes to booking flights, it’s not just about snagging a bargain; it’s more about avoiding the worst-case scenario, like shelling out way more than you planned. Sure, scoring a deal is fantastic, but it’s like catching lightning in a bottle – you can’t always count on it. Plus, think about the time you’ll spend obsessively checking prices every day. Trust me, that can be a real headache!
The thing is, the world of airfare pricing is like a mystery novel with a plot twist on every page. While there are trends and tips out there, the real magic happens when you’re flexible and keep your eyes peeled. So don’t stress about the “perfect” day. Instead, be ready to pounce when you spot that sweet deal that gets you where you want to go without emptying your wallet. Happy travels!