Jody Victor®: When is the best time to buy airline tickets?
The Cheapest Day to Fly is Wednesday
Wednesday is one of the three cheapest days, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. The most expensive days to travel are Friday and Sunday. The cheapest time is usually the first flight out in the morning. Next best times during/after lunch and dinner time.
Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets is Tuesday 3pm EST
One study shows the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for flights (domestically) is Tuesday at 3pm EST. Most of these discounted airfare are pulled on Thursdays, so you’re probably paying too much if you wait until the weekend.
Shop One Passenger First and Save on Trips for Two or More
Airline reservations systems must sell everyone in your party the same, higher price even if there are cheaper priced seats available for any in your group. This is why you should be shopping for one passenger first for airline tickets to save on trips with two or more passengers. You can then try to shop for more than one and compare the price. The only drawback is you’ll have to make two transactions to buy 2 tickets. One trick could be to use 2 separate browsers and get them to the final purchase page and click one right after the other so if you picked your seats, you have a better chance to get them.
Understand How Airlines Price Tickets
Have you ever talked to a seatmate about how much you paid for your ticket? It most likely wasn’t the same amount. This is not unusual. You can check prices in the morning and then a few hours later find different prices. You can find out more about the airlines price their tickets here.
Don’t Forget to Check Low Cost Airlines
Some low cost airlines like Southwest don’t allow tickets to be quoted on popular comparison ticket websites. Remember to check them separately to see if they have lower prices. Low cost airlines don’t always have the cheapest ticket prices nor the best schedules so remember to check both.
Flexibility Helps Scoring Cheaper Tickets
When you can, be flexible in departure/arrival days/times.
Avoid Days When Airlines Have Peak Travel Surcharges
When seats are seats are in short supply, airlines may charge more for their seats. Normally they would do this by raising ticket prices, but in tough economic times they have resorted to very targeted departure day increases they call “peak travel surcharges”.
Don’t Shop Too Early or Too Late
Airlines don’t start releasing cheaper seats until 3-4 months before departure for domestic travel and conversely 4-5 months before international travel. Look at this When-to-Buy SM airline ticket guide, for more information.
Use Technology to Notify You When Prices Drop and Track Price Trends
You can sign up for real-time email airline ticket price drop alerts at farecompare.com that will notify you every time an airline drops prices on your favorite routes.
Save on Last Minute Emergency Flights
At the worst of emotional times you can be hit with very high prices for last minute emergency flights. Airlines may assume that procrastinating travelers have their company foot the bill. You can:
- Call for Bereavement Rates – most airlines don’t have these anymore, but the ones that do may only discount $50 or 10%
- Use Miles or Points
- Last Minute Specials – some airlines have cheaper last minute deals for off peak travel
- Shop Air+Hotel Packages – many packaging sites negotiate rates that are much less expensive than if you buy just the airfare
Jody hopes you have learned as much as he did!