Actual Data Tells You When To Buy Tickets To Save The Most On Airfare

Google and Expedia both looked at when it’s cheapest to book tickets and is it any surprise that Google’s answers are more credible? Google found that it largely doesn’t matter, while Expedia says it’s up to 15% cheaper to book on Sundays. At least they didn’t claim “12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning when holds expire” or similar nonsense.

Based on several years of search data on Google Flights, Google found at most a 1.9% variance in price based on what day you book. But they concluded when you book does not actually matter, except that:

  • You want to book a month or two in advance for the best deals, and even further out (around two and a half months) for holiday trips. U.S. – Europe has historically been cheapest 4-6 months out from travel. Of course some of these patterns have changed since the onset of the pandemic.

  • And if you want to save money, gaming when to book your ticket isn’t going to yield value, but avoiding peak travel days (Thursday – Sunday) and willingness to take connecting itineraries is how you’ll save money.

United Airlines actually looked at its own internal data three years ago and found some interesting things.

  • Customers booking on Saturdays and Sundays got lower fares, on average, than those booking on weekdays. It’s not that lower fares are offered on those days, though. It’s just that leisure passengers book on weekends when they have the time while business travelers book during the week at work. Fewer expensive business fares are being booked on the weekend, so the average fares on those days are lower.

  • The least expensive day to travel is Tuesday. It’s still true (even with increased work from anywhere and extended weekends) that Tuesday is a lighter travel day than Sunday or Monday. Less demand for seats means there’s more seats to unload at a discount. Tuesdays and Wednesdays have usually been cheaper days to travel than

  • The cheapest tickets are purchased between 6 a.m. and Noon. Fares are more likely to go up during the day than to go down, although the effect is very small. And when the cheapest tickets are purchased isn’t the same thing as when the lowest fares are offered.

In addition to buying in advance, and considering trips on days and routes that are less in demand, three things you can do to actually save money are:

  • Know how much tickets usually cost on your route. That way you know when prices are higher or lower than normal. If they’re lower, consider buying. If they’re higher, if there’s no obvious holiday or special event driving demand, and if there’s plenty of time before the trip, it can be advisable to wait.

  • Don’t buy too far in advance. Often lowest discount inventory isn’t loaded for flights a year in advance when schedules load. The only time to book super early is for peak holiday travel days where flights do sell out and what limited inexpensive inventory might be available goes early. It’s usually not a good idea to book travel more than six months out. Besides there will likely be schedule changes if you do (although those can be advantageous if you’re booking cheap tickets for inconvenient times and want flexibility to change – or cancel for a refund).

  • Request fare difference refunds. For tickets without change fees, keep checking prices after you’ve booked. Then if the price falls you can call up and request a voucher for the difference.
  • Related Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *