A few questions people often ask me is what day is the best day to buy airfare, what’s the best day to fly, and how soon should I buy my ticket, amongst many others! The answers to these questions are a bit complex, and not as black and white as some would like. I have researched several studies, and studied this myself, so I will lay out the best tips on getting the most bang out of your buck!
Rich or poor, EVERYONE likes to save money! Some people are willing to put more effort into it than others, so I guess its your priorities, but most of these tips and tricks are very easy to do!
Even though these tips and tricks work most of the time, there are always exceptions to the rules, and buying airfare is like gambling, there is a lot of luck involved.
THE MOST IMPORTANT!
READ MY BLOG! I have written many articles on how I travel like I do, and although I am trying to compile a guide with this post, there are MANY hidden nuggets all over my site, so My blog is Your blog! WELCOME!
The best day to book
Is Tuesday the best day to book travel?, the short answer is NO! Yes that’s right, I said NO. For many years people have said that Tuesday is the best day to book a flight, but that no longer holds true. Years ago, when airlines were more manual, they updated inventory on Tuesday morning, making more seats available hence cheaper. Now that things are much more advanced, prices can go up or down within minutes , or even seconds!
The best day to book a ticket is on SUNDAY. Overall, the average price of plane tickets bought on Sunday were about 20% less than tickets bought on other days. This data is coming from many of the top online booking sites, so they should know!
When to buy
The general consensus is to buy your tickets 21 to 121 days out. Yes, sometimes you can find last minute cheap fares, but its a HUGE GAMBLE! The number that stands out in the above range is 70 days before departure.
What days to fly and which ones to avoid
The days to generally avoid is Sundays and Mondays. Although booking a flight on Sunday is generally the best, flying on Sunday is NOT. Sundays are when a lot of leisure travelers are returning home to be at work Monday morning, and Monday’s are when a lot of business travelers start their weeks off flying to different destinations.
What days to fly on, is a little less clear. It seems that starting a trip on Friday’s are generally cheaper, but some people also say Thursday also.
The main takeaway from this is not what day to fly but what days NOT to fly! Yes TRY to leave on a Friday, but its not as important as NOT flying on Sunday’s and Monday’s.
What time to fly
So, you will not like this answer, BUT the cheapest flights are the ungodly ones like 6am, and Late Red-Eye flights. If you really want to save money, then look at Early and Late Departures. It may be unpleasant to get up at 4:30 am to go to the airport, but that may be a few, to several hundred dollars more that you could spend on shopping (that’s what I would do anyway).
No browser tricks neccesary
A common myth is that if you search a lot for a ticket the price goes up. This MAY BE TRUE, but its not because of you searching, it’s because you waited to book while you was searching, and other people booked, hence less seats… more money. I have also heard, that using a “private” tab in your browser, switching browsers, or clearing cookies can help get better fares, well, there is ZERO evidence to back this up. These issues have been studied by groups of journalist and travel bloggers and its always been debunked. Just search your heart away, but just remember, the longer you wait, the more people will buy and the prices will go up.
Check other airports
When I search for flights from my Oklahoma base, I search Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, Ks, & Dallas, Tx. These cities are all fairly close, by an hour or 3.5 hours. If I can save $500 bucks to fly out of Dallas, its worth the slight discomfort at driving 3.5 hours, to me anyway. Just because your used to just one airport, get out of your comfort zone a little ,and you would be surprised at how nearby airports can be much cheaper.
I mentioned Dallas, and I fly out of there often, I will next week to Europe, but a misconception I hear a lot, is flying out of Dallas is cheaper than OKC because its a bigger airport. This is not always true. My point is don’t make assumptions, or try to figure it out, just search everything.
Also, search all airports in the area you are going to. Obviously you don’t want it too out of the way, but , for example, New York City has 3 airports.
Google Flights is a tool I use for this.
Track and monitor prices
Keeping in mind to not wait past the 21 days , gambling and hopping the price will go down, another option is to search for the ticket you want, and track it. Many online search tools offer this. Google Flights is the one I use the most. Google Flights just updated their tools in the last few days to make it even easier to track and see historical prices. I will be writing an article in this soon!
This is a good option if you have time to play. Keep in mind though, that if you find a good deal that is OBVIOUS, then BOOK IT! Don’t be a miser and try to get a half priced fare for half of that.
If you read my blog at all, you know I am NOT a fan of these fares. Basic Economy are fares that the major airlines introduced to compete with the low cost carriers. Many perks and things we have gotten used to are NOT included in these fares, and although if the flight was short, I maybe would consider it, I generally would not. Read about it HERE!
Check different points of sale
I have to say, I have not played with this much, but I know it can work. Basically , if you go to , say, Delta.com , and switch your country to Brazil, or Mexico, or wherever, you may get a different price ( you need to covert the local money into dollars to see, BUT DO NOT change it to dollars on the foreign site as it will defeat the purpose). Try doing this if you are going to that country, try switching to that version of the website. Even though these are global companies, they operate in separate countries, so each ticket office is different, with different rules, and taxes, and considerations. I have heard of people saving a lot of money this way. Even if your credit card charges foreign transactions frees, you many times can still save money!
Think about living in America, and paying more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world, FOR THE SAME DRUG. This is basically the same concept. Play with it and see what you come up with .
A CAUTION– IF you find a cheap fare this way, keep in mind, that if you did NOT buy the ticket from a US based site, you loose the protection of 24hr cancelation that is afforded to Americans by federal law. Make sure you do not need to cancel, as most cheap tickets are NOT CANCELABLE. If your sure you won’t change your mind in a day, then go for it!
Credit cards can be a great way to gather points, miles and status with airlines. Many airlines offer extra benefits to their card holders, and when you use their card to purchase a ticket with them, you get EXTRA points, miles or money back. This may not help in short term, but it does in long term. I have written about this before, to NEVER spend on anything, especially travel without getting something for it!
The main points of this guide are the following:
- READ MY BLOG!
- Book your flights on SUNDAY
- Book flights 21 to 121 days out, but the sweet spot is 70 days out.
- Fly EARLY or LATE
- You do NOT need browser “tricks”
- Check nearby airports for better prices
- Set up monitoring / tracking for flights
- Basic Economy is an “option”
- Try switching countries on websites to see if it’s cheaper
- USE points, miles, or cash back credit cards for all travel spend.
- READ MY BLOG!
As I mentioned before, buying airfare is like gambling, but overall these general rules, that have been researched, can and will save you money!
If you have any questions or additions, PLEASE CONTACT ME, or leave a comment, and PLEASE, TRAVEL MORE!