Delta Airline Tickets: The Best Time to Buy

Hope you’ve had a chance to look at my series on the best time to buy airline tickets on various airline carriers. I launched this with the “Best Time to Buy Southwest Airlines Tickets”, followed by the best airfare deals on AirTran, then a look at American Airlines and Continental, and now – let’s delve into Delta.

Delta Airline Ticket Sales and Airfare Deals

Delta offers a variety of airfare sales on its website including its famous “Weekly Web Fare Specials” and they often promote special deals to hubs like Atlanta and New York.

Plus, when other airlines begin sales, Delta is quick to match (or beat) prices on overlapping routes. Our airfare sales and airline deals blog feature the latest offerings from Delta and other carriers, and this blog is updated daily.

Why not keep up with an RSS reader or follow on along on Twitter (@farecomparedeal)?

When to Fly on Delta

The cheapest day to fly on most U.S. airlines is Wednesday, and Delta would seem to be no exception; other cheap days to fly are often Tuesday and Thursday (and mornings are often the cheapest times to fly). Of course, this will vary depending on your route and destination, which is why we urge you to use the “flexible airfare calendar search” (right there on our homepage) – it allows you to see the cheapest dates to fly, with just a quick glance.

Saturday is also typically discounted by low cost airlines, which Delta will match (and sometimes beat) on routes it shares with these carriers.

When to Buy Airline Tickets on Delta: Tuesday Afternoons

For months now, Tuesday at 3pm Eastern has been the best time to buy airline tickets, no matter what the carrier. This is because an airline generally begins a sale late Monday evening, which prompts the other airlines (such as Delta) to jump in the following day, with with matching prices.

Remember, Seats “On Sale” are Strictly Limited

No airline ever sells an entire planeload of seats at those very cheapest “sale” prices; they simply couldn’t make money doing that. In fact, on average, only about 10% (or less) of an airplane’s seats are the super cheapies. What’s that mean to you? If you see a great price, nab it – it will not last.

Know the Requirements of Delta’s Airfare Deals

Delta is one of the remaining “legacy” carriers, and as such, usually requires a 14 day advance purchase for the very best prices (though this can vary, especially with sales – again, check with a “flexible search calendar“).

Note: sales on Delta (and many other airlines) often require that you fly on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday – typically, the cheapest days to fly.

Delta’s Humble Beginnings to World’s Largest Airline

Delta’s beginnings were about as humble as you can get; it started as a crop dusting outfit, but the airline points to 1928 as its “official” start which is when it was christened Delta Airways (the name would change again later). The Atlanta-based carrier was ever so briefly the world’s largest airline after its merger with Northwest, but has since been replaced by the “new” United in the wake of its merger with Continental.

Delta Hubs and Passenger Statistics

Delta’s biggest hub is its home base of Atlanta; others include Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York’s JFK, Salt Lake City, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam and Tokyo’s Narita.

Delta flies to 67 countries on more than 6,000 flights a day aboard 700+ aircraft. 160 million passengers a year fly Delta to almost 370 destinations (about a third of those are international cities).

Delta’s YouTube Hit

Here’s one of Delta’s most popular videos YouTube; as you will see, it’s a safety demo. Just a hunch, but maybe the striking-looking flight attendant is the reason for its popularity:

Delta Rebounds

After a rocky couple of years that saw airline profits plummet pretty much across the board, Delta is rebounding. For the second quarter of 2010, Delta posted its biggest quarterly profit in a decade (net income of $467 million).

Recently, Delta has jumped into the New York-Chicago airline shuttle war in a big way, and is seeking to expand flights in Brazil. It also introduced a branded credit card that allows customers to check-a bag for free.

Get the Best Deals to Europe – on Delta and Other Airlines

Follow Delta on Social Media

Delta has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter (@Delta) with more than 70,000 followers. You’ll sometimes see special deals there offered nowhere else.

Bonus: Delta monitors these accounts closely; if you have a problem, they do respond – well, they usually respond, and they usually respond very quickly. Help can be just a tweet away, which may be the best reason of all the get into social media (and we can show how to follow your favorite airline – it’s a snap).

Bottom Line for Getting the Best Airfare Deal from Delta

Start with FareCompare: sign up for real-time email airfare alerts – follow the airfare deals shop Tuesdays at 3pm – and don’t forget to involve yourself in Delta’s social media. Not a lot of effort, but potentially, a lot of savings.


Updated: November 13, 2014