Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

View from plane window

We all want the cheapest flights possible and that’s what this guide is all about: Finding the cheapest days to fly and getting the best deals on airfare. Comparison shopping is a big help; so is knowing when to buy tickets and the best days to fly. There are other ways to save, too, so let’s get started.

1. Shop on Tuesday

Best day to shop: The best time to book a U.S. flight is usually Tuesday at about 3 p.m. eastern time. We’ve explained why Tuesday is the best day to shop for airline tickets in the past – because so many airlines release weekly sales early on Tuesday, prompting competing airlines to match prices – and this hasn’t changed much over the years, that Tuesday is a very good day to find a whole bunch of deals. But don’t worry, you can find deals on other days if you know how to look. So keep reading.

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2. Don’t Shop too Early or too Late

Careful! Buy too early and you could pay too much. Buy too late and you could pay way too much. The sweet spot for deals is usually found in the following shopping windows.

U.S. tickets: Shop between 3 months and 30 days before departure.

International tickets: Shop between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ months before departure.

Popular times to fly: Purchase tickets two months in advance for popular peak travel periods such as June, July, and August; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s; and other special holidays.

Shop current deals: If you can travel when you want and can fly when deals pop-up, shop anytime because you never know when an airline will unexpectedly drop prices. Shop current deals on FareCompare.

Shop Current Deals

3. Always Compare Airfare

The golden rule of shopping: Always compare airfares. Some folks fail to do this because they ‘know’ their favorite airline always has the best deal, but no airline always has the cheapest prices, not Spirit, not Southwest, not every single time on every single route, and we’ve proved it. If you don’t compare, you could pay too much. Why pay a penny more than you have to?

Learn the cheapest days to fly and the best day to buy airline tickets with FareCompare.

Tip: Set a FareCompare airfare alert and we’ll do the work for you. Signing up for an alert only takes a second and the deals come to directly to you via email. Then, if you get a fare you like, act fast; the best deals don’t last.

4. Cheapest Days to Fly

Save even more by knowing the cheapest days to fly. If you can’t book cheap days for your entire flight, do it for one leg of the trip and you’ll still see some savings.

Cheap days: In the U.S., Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday are usually cheapest. For international travel, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends.

Expensive days: Fridays and Sundays usually cost more, especially in the U.S.

Cheap times of day: Fly when most people don’t want to, such as dawn, overnight or flights during the lunch or dinner hour.

Tip: We can help you find the cheapest days to fly from your city with the Getaway Map. Just type in your hometown, click the month or season you’d like the fly, and you will instantly see deals to destinations around the world. Click the ones that look interesting, and you’ll see four itineraries; click them all.

 

5. Fly the Cheapest Route

Non-stops vs. connecting flights: Non-stops are more convenient but you can sometimes find better deals on connecting flights. Not always, but when a flight with a stop is cheaper, it can sometimes save you as much as 50%. Always compare the price of a non-stop with a connecting flight before you ding your credit card. Only you can decide if a cheaper price is worth the inconvenience of a longer travel day.

6. Book Group Travel One Ticket at a Time

This won’t always save money, but it can so it’s worth a try.

How to shop: When booking travel for two or more people, book only one ticket to start because a quirk in airline reservation systems means multiple tickets sold in a single transaction must be sold for the same price. For example, if you need two tickets and the airline has one ticket for $100 and all the others cost $125, you will pay $125 for both. However, if you purchase the two tickets one-at-a-time, you will get the cheaper price for one of your tickets.

Want More Great Advice?

We keep an eye on airfare sales and frequently post them to Facebook and Twitter. We like to share shopping tips on social media, too, so pleas join us – and happy travels always.

Rick Seaney
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