Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Editor’s note: We updated this popular post as of Oct. 3, 2014 with new and easy-to-use information. One thing hasn’t changed, though – it’ll still help you save money every time you shop for airfare.

LISTEN: Airfare expert Rick Seaney with more way to find the best deals.

How to Get Cheap Flights

We get it. You’re busy and your time is valuable. When you want airline tickets, you want the best comparison shopping site and you want to find the cheapest flights quickly and easily. These tips will help you do just that.

What are the Cheapest Days to Fly

Cheapest days: In general, less-popular days to fly are cheaper. These are almost always the cheapest days to fly on U.S. domestic routes: Tuesdays, Wednesday and Saturdays. Learn more about this here.

Expensive days: Popular days will cost more and the most popular/most expensive days are usually Fridays and Sundays.

Cheapest times: Again, fly when most people don’t want to and this includes flights at dawn, red-eyes or overnight flights, and often flights around the dinner hour.

When is the Best Time to Book a Flight

Best day to shop: FareCompare’s data shows that best time to book a flight in the U.S. is Tuesday at 3 p.m. eastern time. This day and time give you access to the best flight deals. It’s when airlines release the most sales and the best time to book plane tickets. Learn more about this here.

Best time-frame to shop: This varies depending on where you fly.

  • Domestic fares: The best time to buy airline tickets in the U.S. is between three months and 30 days before departure.
  • International fares: The best time to buy international airline tickets is between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ months before departure.

A big mistake many people make is to delay shopping for airline tickets until the last minute, which is when the steeper prices business travelers pay kick in. Procrastination doesn’t pay. The best time to book flights is sooner rather than later.

How to Save with Flexibility

Sometimes a little inconvenience can save big money. Check out the following tips and decide whether you’re willing to endure a longer travel day or shopping experience.

Connecting flights: Often – not always, but often – you can save by foregoing the ease of a non-stop flight in favor of a less convenient connecting flight. Sometimes adding a stop (or two) can save as much as 50 percent. Learn more about this here.

Bigger airports: Bigger airports particularly hubs often have cheaper airfares. Compare prices from your home airport as well as the nearest larger airport and you may find driving an extra hour or two is well worth it.

Shop one passenger at a time: When booking travel for two or more, shop one passenger at a time. That’s because airline reservation systems require that when multiple tickets are sold in a single transaction, those tickets must be the same price. So if you shop for two people, and there is one ticket for $100 but many tickets for $200, you’ll pay $200 for each ticket. Learn more about this here.

Sign up for airfare alerts: Getting to see the best prices in real-time is simple; just sign up at FareCompare (it’s free and it’s fast). Tip: When you are alerted to a good price that interests you, jump on it – it won’t last long.

Yes, We Have More Tips to Find Cheap Flights

Please join our community at FareCompare. Not only will you get access to the best airfares of more than 500 airlines around the world, you’ll find tons of great information and advice. And check out the Deals Blog for the latest airfare sales, updated daily.

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Updated: November 13, 2014