- The Cheapest Days to Fly
- Don't Book Flights on a Friday
- Book Flights on the Weekend
- Things to Bear In Mind
- Be flexible!
- Do your research!
- The Cheapest Days to Fly in 2020
- How airlines set ticket prices
- Cheapest days and times to fly
- Could weekends be the cheapest days to book travel?
- Start your travel on these days
- Will coronavirus make flying more expensive?
- Finding the cheapest day to book flights is as clear as mud
- Already got a trip booked and want to save money?
- Best Time to Book Flights from the United States in 2020
- When is the best time to book a flight from the United States in 2020?
- Best Month to Book a Flight for Domestic Travel from the US
- Best Time to Book a Flight for International Travel from the US
- When is the Best Day to book flights?
- Cheapest Time to Fly Domestically
- Cheapest Time to Fly Internationally
- How Far in Advance to Book Domestic Flights
- Is There a Cheapest and Best Day to Buy Flights?
- How far in advance should you book flights?
- Do flights get cheaper closer to the date?
- Do airlines increase prices searches?
- Are flights cheaper on Tuesdays?
- Alternative Airlines cheap flight facts
- What's the best day to buy flights?
- Tips for finding the cheapest flights
- Keep looking!
- Be flexible
- Take advantage of a long layover
- The cheapest flight isn't always the best value
- Hunt for offers
- The real cheapest days to buy flights
- When you go makes a much bigger difference than when you buy your flights
- Mid-week flights
- The early bird catches the worm
- Follow us!
The Cheapest Days to Fly
When to buy airline tickets, and the cheapest days to use them
The internet is a weird and wonderful thing. Despite its pitfalls, it's provided us with many incredible opportunities, being able to talk to people from all over the world, find information at the touch of a button or two, and spend our entire day looking at photos of cats.
If that wasn't enough, it's paved the way for the transformation of the travel industry, allowing us to skip having to spend precious hours wasting away in a grey office with a single poster of a dodgy-looking beach plastered on a wall, and instead gives us the power to do it all ourselves.
However, in the words of Uncle Ben (no, no that one), “with great power comes great responsibility”.
If that's the case, then, how do you go about keeping those prices down?
Don't Book Flights on a Friday
We know how it goes; you've been stuck in the office all week, all your work is done and you've got nothing left to do but twiddle your thumbs until the sweet release of 5pm. So you just do a bit of idle searching for a holidays, right? And who knows…
maybe – just maybe – you find your ideal holiday; the one you've been dreaming about your entire life. So you decide you want to take the plunge. It's Friday, right? Well hold it right there, bucko.
According to Expedia and the ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation), prices are actually at their highest on a Friday, thanks to the one-two combo of airlines often hiking up ticket costs and running cheaper seat around this time.
Book Flights on the Weekend
But if Fridays are the question, when should you book your tickets? Well, for the eagle-eye amongst you who read the heading above, the weekend – or early week at a push – is perfect for snagging those cheap tickets.
According to Expedia and the ARC, Sundays are the best days to be buying your flights – you can often save up to 13% from the Friday price – with Tuesday being the cheapest weekday.
So if you find that dream holiday you've been wanting for the past thirty years, just have a little more patience!
Things to Bear In Mind
As with most things in life, it's not quite that simple, however. Since prices vary from one day to the next, it may seem that they change depending on how the airlines are feeling that particular day…
but fortunately, they tend to follow some pretty predictable trends – the higher the demand, the pricier the ticket. So if you're looking smack-bang in the middle of the summer holidays, for example, there's only so much you can do.
However, here are our top tips to limit the damage!
This applies to a whole host of different aspects of booking a holiday. Instead of booking with a specific airline, try a service Expedia or Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flight you can.
Even better, if you can be flexible with what day you travel, you can often save a pretty hefty amount of money. And, if you really don't care about where you go, as long as you go on holiday, try looking at a few different destinations.
If you can find some suitable deals on specific locations, even better.
Do your research!
Although you might think that the earlier you book your ticket, the cheaper it'll be, that's – bizarrely – often not the case. There's usually a sweet spot a number of weeks before your departure in which prices are the cheapest.
It varies from destination to destination, but generally speaking if you're going to Europe, four to eight weeks is usually a safe bet, which rises to 22 weeks for the USA.
For a more comprehensive list, Skyscanner has a fantastic tool that will allow you to enter where you are flying to and from, and it'll tell you how far in advance to book your ticket to get the cheapest price.
So there you have it! Deciding what day to travel to save the most on your ticket isn't an exact science, but with a bit of jiggery pokery you can usually get a pretty decent saving when you book…and the more flexible with when and where you fly to, the better.
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The Cheapest Days to Fly in 2020
Airlines and travel agents work hard to make booking flights as easy as possible. But when it comes to the crunch, purchasing tickets is never simple for us customers.
The constant chatter about money-saving travel tips and fluctuating flight prices means we’ll rarely commit to the first flight option and price we see.
Unfortunately, finding the best flight for the lowest price means researching the cheapest days to fly, the most affordable airlines, and the quickest routes, which all lengthen the booking process.
No one wants to spend more money on flights than absolutely necessary. But can the day you book your tickets and the day you choose to travel affect the price that much?
According to our research, no. We couldn’t find any hard and fast rules on which are the cheapest days to fly.
There are simply too many variables that can influence ticket prices.
How airlines set ticket prices
Airline ticket prices jump around for a number of reasons. Here are just some of the factors airlines and the travel industry take into consideration:
- seasonality, supply, and demand
- cost of oil
- booking algorithms
- local, national and global economics
- special offers and competition between the airlines
- airport size, which dictates the number of flights that can take off and land.
With so many variables, prices can change from day to day, and even from hour to hour. And many of them change no matter what day it is, which makes pinning down the cheapest day to fly difficult at best.
Seasonality, supply, and demand are arguably the main forces driving how airlines assign seat costs. According to Australian travel lifestyle site Traveller, airlines divide all available seats into categories (or buckets).
The number of seats allocated to a bucket depends on the ly demand, which is decided by a databank used by the airline. The higher the demand, the fewer the number of seats that get put into the lower price buckets. And vice versa.
This pricing method is used for both domestic and international flights. However, when researching the cheapest days to fly it’s easier to find trends in the cost of domestic travel. International flights don’t appear to have the same fluctuation. But whether airlines and travel agents release cheap airfares on set days is up for debate within the industry.
Cheapest days and times to fly
Is there really a cheapest day to fly? It depends on what article you read. And there’s a huge disagreement between what the research says.
On the one hand, some travel experts who have worked for years (if not decades) in the travel industry are convinced the cheapest days to travel are always Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
And there’s logic to their conclusion that booking a mid-week flight could save you money.
Demand for flights is ly to be lower during the week. When planning a trip for leisure, most of us think of going weekend to weekend so it minimizes how much holiday allowance we use up. And if weekends are the popular time to travel then mid-week demand is lower, and so should logically be cheaper.
Lower demand isn’t the only reason travel experts back Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the cheapest days to fly. Several articles suggest airlines are ly to announce deals on Monday evenings. By the time you wake up on Tuesday feeling sick of the working week already, you’ve got attractive travel deals available to help you plan your break.
While there may be anecdotal evidence, there’s no statistical data to back up the idea that airlines always release deals at the start of the week. And that’s where the Tuesday/Wednesday cheap deal theory falls flat.
Could weekends be the cheapest days to book travel?
While it sounds surprising, data-backed research suggests that Saturday and Sunday could be the best days to book your tickets.
A study by Texas A&M University (with the catchy title Price Discrimination By Day-Of-Week Of Purchase: Evidence From The U.S. Airline Industry) completely contradicts the Tuesday/Wednesday theory.
After analyzing historical archives of tickets purchased from major airlines, they found that ‘tickets purchased on the weekend were, on average, 5 percent cheaper than similar tickets purchased on weekdays.’
This isn’t the only paper suggesting weekends are the cheaper time to book. The 2019 Travel Outlook Report by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) found that booking travel on the weekend can save as much as 20% (36% if booked on a Sunday).
Start your travel on these days
Expedia and ARC champion Sundays as the cheapest day to book flights but they advise against starting your trip on a Sunday. It turns out Sundays are actually the most expensive day to start a trip.
This finding is backed up by Cheapair.com in their Fifth Annual Airfare Study, too.
If you’re conscious of cost, Expedia suggests flying on Thursday or Friday, while Cheapair says tickets are ly to be $85 less on Tuesdays compared to Sundays.
Will coronavirus make flying more expensive?
Pricing for air travel is all over the place at the moment. With coronavirus ripping through the world and grounding much of the air industry, it’s hard to know how ticket prices will be affected in the future.
As mentioned earlier, airlines base their pricing on algorithms and past data. But as one BBC article suggests, much of those scientific calculations and models are useless at the moment. Instead, airlines will need to look at people’s motivation for traveling and their confidence in air travel. Price adjustments may need to be emotions before the more familiar demand returns.
Finding the cheapest day to book flights is as clear as mud
As Smarter Travel says, ‘Ultimately, your best day to fly all depends on your route and your airline.’ With airfares constantly changing, it’s worth being flexible in your travel arrangements. Try checking flight prices a few times in the run-up to your trip, and if you notice a price that’s considerably lower than what you’ve been seeing then jump on it.
But if you don’t fancy playing the odds, and want more assured ways of saving money on travel, check out these six travel discounts that really work.
Already got a trip booked and want to save money?
Saving money on your airport parking by booking with EZ Air Park is one of the easiest ways to keep more money in your travel fund. Get a quote today.
Best Time to Book Flights from the United States in 2020
Are you looking for the best time to book a flight from the United States? Skyscanner analyzes last year's booking data to predict the best time to book a flight this year.
Note: This article has recently been updated with new best time to book data for 2020
When is the best time to book a flight from the United States in 2020?
Skyscanner has analyzed flight booking data from 2019 to estimate the best time to book flights in 2020:
|How far in advance?*||3 weeks||2 weeks|
|Best month to book?†||September||August|
|Day of week to book?||Saturday||Saturday|
*How far in advance is a recommendation on how many days ahead of your departure date you should book flights.
†January was the best month to book in 2020, but since the month is in the past, the recommendation is the next-best month in the future
Best Month to Book a Flight for Domestic Travel from the US
Skyscanner has analyzed historical data to determine the months when you can book the cheapest flights in the United States.
When you are ready to book domestic flights in 2020, September and August will be your next best months to book (January ranked first). historical data, booking in September can save you as much as 5% off the average yearly flight price.
Avoid booking flights inMay, where prices can be up to 6% more than the average yearly flight price.
Best time to book a domestic flight from the US in 2020
Best Time to Book a Flight for International Travel from the US
Want to plan an international getaway? If you want the cheapest flights from the United States, we recommend booking inAugust, followed by March, July and September. Our data from 2019 indicates that booking in August can save as much as 5% on flights compared to the average yearly flight price. Not bad for an international flight!
Don’t want to spend an arm and a leg? We predict booking in May to be the most expensive month, where flights are as much as 7% more than the yearly average.
Best time to book an international flight in 2020 – be sure to tap the International tab to see the average monthly prices.
When is the Best Day to book flights?
Looking at data from 2019, we recommend grabbing your domestic flights on Saturdays and international flights on Saturdays as well for the cheapest day to book a flight.
Best day of the week to book a domestic flight in 2020
Cheapest Time to Fly Domestically
Historical data from 2019 suggests that January was the cheapest month to fly this year for domestic trips, but looking forward, the next two cheapest months to fly are September & October. Traveling in September can save you an estimated 10% on flights compared to the average yearly ticket price.
The most expensive month to travel? It should come as no surprise that traveling over the summer in July yields the most expensive flight prices.
Cheapest Time to Fly Internationally
For international destinations, we recommend flying in March when average flight prices are $621 compared to December when they hike up to $963 round-trip.
In fact, flying in March can save you as much as 15% compared to the average yearly ticket price. Flying in December can result in flight prices up to 31% more than on average.
Looking forward, October is the next cheapest option where prices average at $663.
How Far in Advance to Book Domestic Flights
For domestic travel, we recommend booking at least 3 weeks in advance. Find more information on when to book flights to popular domestic destinations by clicking the drop-down below
Is There a Cheapest and Best Day to Buy Flights?
written by Brianna Mills
Alternative Thrift Shop
Cheap flights. We've all Googled it. Whether it's a business trip, you're heading home to see family or you're off on your summer holidays, you want to know you're getting a good deal. And the internet is happy to help.
The online world is cluttered with tips for thrifty air travellers, Alternative Airlines included.
Blogs, articles and tutorials are all desperate to answer your questions: Is there a cheapest time to buy flights? Is there a cheapest day to buy flights? If I book flights during a solar eclipse while praying to Thor will I save some money on flights?!
Watch our minute long video to help you find your next cheap flight!
Before we dive into answering the question of 'is there a cheapest day to buy flights?', here are a few of the biggest cheap flight finder questions and myths debunked.
How far in advance should you book flights?
Passengers pay the lowest price, around 6% below the average fare, if they buy their tickets six weeks before their flight. That's the golden rule thousands of travel blogs and articles swear by.
It's taken from a study by the Airlines Reporting Corporation, a company that processes ticket transactions. That study was done in 2012. 2012 was the year of Gangnam Style. Things have changed since then.
If you don't believe us, the same company repeated the study two years later.
In this report, it stated that the overall lowest average ticket price for domestic flights can be found 57 days in advance of departure.
The lowest average ticket price of international flights was found to be 171 days before departure. In 2 years there had been a massive shift in what days were considered the cheapest to buy flights.
Trying to decide on the best day to book your flights can be a mission
Unfortunately, this cheap flight secret didn't make it into the golden rule of flight finding. It's not as catchy as the 6 week rule. It does show, however, how quickly these cheapest day to buy flight rules go fashion. In the world of cheap flight finding, if a study hasn't been done in the last 18 months, take it with a pinch of salt.
Do flights get cheaper closer to the date?
Perhaps what you can take away from the 6 week and 57 day rules is that there's such a thing as booking too early, especially for short-haul and domestic flights.
According to these two studies, along with many others on the internet, the cheapest time to buy flights is almost never when they're first released. This means that if you plan your weekend break months and months in advance just to save money on flights, you're wasting your time.
So, yes, flights do get cheaper as the date gets closer. But, be mindful that at some point, they will most ly will go back up.
Do airlines increase prices searches?
The idea behind this is that once you've searched for a flight on a travel or airline website, that website recognises that you're interested in that specific route and it will release a browser cookie that will increase the price the next time that you search for flights for the same route on the same website.
There have been many studies on this where people have ran multiple searches with and without cookies attached to their browser and compared the findings of each search. These studies have produced various results.
Sometimes flight prices do increase, sometimes they don't.
The one constant that appears in these studies is that on the cases where flight prices do increase, there's not enough consistency to attribute the price change to the cookies attached to the browser.
From our perspective, while we can't speak for other flight booking websites, we want to 100% assure that this isn't something that we do at Alternative Airlines. All of the prices we display are sourced from a live system, from which the price is determined by the airline itself.
Are flights cheaper on Tuesdays?
According to the internet, the best day of the week to buy flights is a Tuesday. Apparently, this is due to airlines announcing deals on Monday evenings. By Tuesday at noon, other airlines are trying to match those deals. So Tuesday afternoons are the best time to hunt for reduced airfare.
The first problem with this is that Tuesday afternoon varies depending where in the world you are. Your Tuesday afternoon may be different to the person who's produced this statistic.
The second problem is that it really doesn't hold up. While it’s often cheaper to fly on Tuesdays to Thursdays, airlines do not lower their fares for those who buy tickets on those days of the week.
The window changes dramatically depending on where you are traveling and when.
That said, we were curious with the internet's obsession with buying cheap flights on Tuesday so we decided to have a look at some Alternative Airlines facts and figures to see if there was a best day to buy flights according to our customers:
Alternative Airlines cheap flight facts
- People pay less on Thursday and Friday — As you can see on the chart below, people on average pay less per flight booking on Thursdays and Fridays.
It would appear that people spend more booking on Saturdays and Sundays than other times of the week.
- Consider the different variables — Although less is spent on Thursdays and Fridays, the statistics are pretty flexible.
For example, it may be that people just book flights for more passengers at the weekend, or are more inspired to book flights to long-haul destinations.
There are so many variables to think about you can't rely on booking flights on a certain day to get the cheapest deal:
The average amount our customers spend when flying abroad from the UK on different days of the week, in GBP
What's the best day to buy flights?
So, if Tuesday isn't the best day to buy flights and the data to suggest that Thursday and Friday as the best day isn't solid enough. When is the best day to buy flights?
In reality, there isn't one. Honestly, you're much better off putting time and effort into finding the flight that you want and focussing on when you fly rather than when you buy.
Whether you buy a flight for when the destination that you're travelling to is season or you decide to fly mid-week instead of over the weekend, buying your flights at off-peak times is the most sure-fire way to get yourself rewarded with a good deal.
Tips for finding the cheapest flights
Now that it's established that there isn't a cheapest day or time to find flights. Check out our handy tips that give you other ways to find cheap airfare.
If you know how much flights SHOULD be, You'll know when you're getting a good deal. If you keep searching for flights, you'll get an idea of what's a rip-off and what's an absolute steal.
$550 USD round trip from the UK to Japan? Yes, please! $550 USD round trip from the UK to India? Hmm, you can probably do better. Once you've done a few searches on a search engine ours, you'll start to see how prices change and know when you've stumbled across a good deal.
It's not a quick fix, but it's definitely an effective one.
You can't expect the cheap flights to appear exactly when you want them. This is where tools Alternative Airline's Best Fare Finder come in handy. Our Best Fare Finder tells you how much you could save by slightly altering your dates of travel and allows you to see the cheapest time to fly across a week from your original search.
You can also benefit from being flexible in the way you pay and choose to buy flights on finance. Companies PayPal Credit, Affirm and Klarna allow you to spread the cost of your flights over time. You may not be getting a cheaper flight ticket, but you have more flexibility in your monthly spending, which makes it more affordable.
Take advantage of a long layover
Often, buying a flight with a very long stopover is cheaper than a regular return. Many people avoid these because they think it has to mean wasting time hanging about a boring airport somewhere.
But it doesn't have to be that way — you can use the time to have a an extra, bonus holiday. A stopover can simply be an alternative way to grab an extra adventure and visit more cities without the cost of another flight.
Check out our blong that gives tips on how to plan the perfect stopover click.
The cheapest flight isn't always the best value
Most budget airlines don't include baggage in their initial flight price. If you need checked baggage, you should compare the total price of both flights, including extra baggage and other amenities, instead of just looking at the base fare of the ticket.
Another thing you should take into account when you find a cheap flight is the airport that the flight arrives and departs from.
As an example, the price of a flight to Copenhagen (CPG) from London Stansted (STN) might be cheaper than the same flight from London Gatwick (LGW).
But, if you're located nearer to Gatwick than you are to Stansted ( Alternative Airlines' head offices are), then you're ly to spend more on travelling to the airport than you save by travelling from the cheaper (but further away) airport.
Know your airports, and the prices of getting to and from those airports and you may save yourself far more money than if you book your flight on a certain day.
Hunt for offers
The cheapest day to buy flights may just be whichever day you happen to find the best deal!
Check travel and discount websites for sales and promotional fares. This may seem obvious but many people don't bother checking airline websites for flight discounts because it can be difficult to find ones that work. Each discount is so specific that it's difficult to understand how anyone can cash in on the deals!
However, if you look for offers on travel agency and online discount websites, you're more ly to find a general 'money off your purchase' sale. There are loads of voucher websites out there though, PayPal puts on some great discount codes and so does Groupon. It's worth checking through as many as you have time for.
The real cheapest days to buy flights
There's a good chance that the REAL cheapest day to buy flights is actually on 'special offers' days. Keeping an eye on when these kinds of 'special offer days' are may help you find some excellent deals! Days to watch out for include:
- Black Friday — Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where retailers go mad and slash all their prices. Keeping an eye on when these kinds of “special offer days” are may help you find some excellent deals! Find offers using the Alternative Airlines Black Friday discount codes or check out advice on getting the cheapest Black Friday flights in our Black Friday blog.
- Cyber Monday — The monday after Thanksgiving. All offers from Black Friday usually continue or are updated with a different deal. This is tradionally for online retail and services.
- Boxing Day — Boxing Day is a public holiday on the 26th December that originates from the UK. It's not celebrated all over the world, but it does mark the start of the post-Christmas sales that are enjoyed take place worldwide. The 26th is when most retailers and travel companies announce their big offers.
- Small business Saturday — The Saturday after Thanksgiving. While the big retailers make all the noise on Black Friday, smaller businesses traditionally put their offers on the Saturday, the day after. This is no different in travel. So, keep your out for smaller airlines and travel agencies offering discounts the day after Black Friday.
When you go makes a much bigger difference than when you buy your flights
If you know you have to travel at a busy time of year, keep an eye on what's going on, at both where you are and where you want to fly to.
If you're in the UK, you may think you're avoiding the summer holiday rush by booking your holidays for early June.
The thing is, if you're flying around the USA, American schools are already on holiday then, driving up air fares.
Flight prices don't just depend on where you are, but where you're going. If there's a sporting event or festival in the country that you wish to travel to, you're going to pay more to travel there whether you're attending the event or not.
If you know you are going to travel off-peak, you can, if you want, relax and leave your booking until a month or two before departure. we said, if the internet has got one thing right, it's that cheap flights are not just about how far in advance you book them. Also be sure to check the dates of low season in your destination to get the best deal.
According to a recent Farecompare.com study, the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday. According to the Jack's Flight Club quote above, it's Tuesday or Thursday. I think it's safe to say in general it's cheaper to fly on a weekday or a Saturday. Why? Because it's slightly inconvenient.
The early bird catches the worm
Speaking of inconvenience, the pattern continues. Early flights/flights at awkward times are on average cheaper. For example, consider taking a red eye flight. Normally, the less convenient something is, the cheaper it is.
First Published: 19/04/18
Updated: January 2020