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What is the best day to book flights?

The cheapest times to book flights in 2024
Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 16, 2024

Let’s just say it: Buying airline tickets can be maddening. The same seat on the same flight often costs a different price on Tuesday than it does on Wednesday. Both prices will change depending on the month or season. And if you add in a few other factors (like how many stops and what class you’re flying), the prices change yet again.

Most frustrating of all? The cost varies based on when you buy the ticket. It’s not unusual for fares to seesaw up and down from the moment a price is first published until your departure date, changing as many as 49 times. How can you know which day the airline will offer the lowest price?

You can’t know for sure. But you can keep up with the latest airfare studies — in which travel experts crunch the numbers from past flights, looking for trends and patterns. Read on for some tips on when to purchase tickets this year.

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Best day to book domestic flights

About 10 years ago, when online flight booking was still new, airlines would post their latest fares and special deals at the end of the day on Tuesday. In many cases, airlines would match one another’s discount fares. Travel experts passed this information on to consumers, and people came to think of late Tuesday and early Wednesday as the best times to buy tickets.

These days, airlines update their fares all the time, and price matching is less prevalent. So the traditional advice to purchase tickets midweek no longer applies.

Research from Expedia shows that nowadays, Sunday is the best day to book a flight, while fares are most expensive on Friday. The data suggests that if you book on Sunday instead of Friday, you can save around 5% on an economy class ticket and 7% on a business class ticket.

Best day to book international flights

Sunday is also the best day to book international flights. If you choose to buy tickets on Sunday instead of Friday, you can save around 5% on an economy class ticket and 24% for a business class ticket. While the amount of savings has varied, Expedia found that Sunday has been the low price winner for the last three years running.

Cheapest days to fly domestically

In a study by CheapAir.com, travel experts found that Wednesday is the least expensive day to fly domestically, and Sunday is the most expensive. Choosing Wednesday to travel will save you an average of $102 versus traveling on Sunday. The next cheapest option is Tuesday, which will save you an average of $99 versus traveling on Sunday.

MORE: Train vs. plane: Which is the better way to travel?

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Cheapest days to fly internationally

If you’re flying overseas, aim to travel mid-week. “For international trips, depart on a Thursday to save as much as 6%, or $60, per round trip ticket,” Hayley Berg, lead economist for travel deals app Hopper, told “Reader’s Digest.

Meanwhile, CheapAir.com found that the best days to travel internationally were Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the continent.

Best months to fly

Lots of people take vacations in the summer, which drives the prices up in May, June and July. And the fall and winter holidays lead to higher prices in November and December. So, if you have a bit of flexibility in your travel dates, you can save money by flying in January, February, September or October.

Berg told “Reader’s Digest” that air passengers can get a discount of over $100 off domestic airfare by traveling during less popular months.

Best time of day to fly

Because fewer people want to take early morning flights, they tend to be a bit cheaper. According to Trip.com, if you opt for a flight that leaves before 9 a.m., the price could be as much as 15% less expensive. You’ll also get a cleaner, possibly less-crowded plane.

MORE: This easy iPhone trick lets you track flight info without an app

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How far in advance to book flights

Buying your airline tickets as early as possible doesn’t mean you’ll get the best deal. “Booking more than six months ahead can cost you, since airlines set their initial prices conservatively,” Hopper’s Chief Data Scientist Patrick Surry told Travel & Leisure. But if you wait too long, you might end up paying an inflated price.

According to CheapAir.com, the best day to buy a plane ticket this year is 42 days before your departure. The prime booking window to buy a cheap flight is 74 to 21 days in advance. Outside of that window, the rates will probably be higher. But seasonal changes and holidays can alter the pricing, and where you’re flying comes into play, too.

To be better informed about your specific pricing window, you can use CheapAir’s tool to find the best time to buy flights, based on data compiled from over 8,000 markets and over 1.3 billion airfares. You can plug in departure and arrival cities, hit “Get Info,” and this tool will tell you the prime booking window for your flight. For example, if you’re flying from Atlanta to San Diego this year, CheapAir.com suggests you book between 29 and 72 days in advance.

Buying plane tickets would be a lot less stressful if the prices didn’t change so frequently. But the task is easier when you have these basic tips in your back pocket!

MORE: These are the 20 cheapest places to travel in 2024


What is the best day to book flights? originally appeared on Simplemost.com