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Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Published by FareCompare on February 5, 2024

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 and so is knowing when to buy tickets and the best days to fly. There are lots of other ways to save, too, so let's get started.

When Is the Cheapest Time to Buy Flights in 2024?

1. Shop on Tuesday

Best day to shop for airfare: While it's certainly not a completely fixed formula, the best time to book a cheap flight within the U.S. is usually on a Tuesday at about 3 p.m. Eastern time. Many airlines release weekly airfare sales in the early morning hours of Tuesday, and by mid-afternoon, competing airlines have had the time to catch up and match sale prices. In other words, shoppers now have the widest range of deals to choose from when it comes to securing cheap airline tickets.

In general, it's best to remain flexible and keep your eyes peeled so you can secure the cheapest flights that best fit your travel plans and ideal itinerary.

2. Don't Shop too Early – or too Late!

When looking for cheap flights, be careful! Buy too early and you run the risk of paying too much for airfare. If you wait until it's too late, you could end up paying way too much when it's last-minute. The sweet spot for airfare deals and the cheapest flights is typically found in the following shopping windows:

  • U.S. Tickets: Shop between 3 months and 30 days before departure.
  • International Tickets: Shop between five and a half months and one and a half months before departure.
  • Popular Times to Fly: For peak travel periods such as June, July, and August; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's; and other holiday dates, purchase tickets two months in advance.

It's important to keep in mind high seasons, holidays, and other popular times of the year when you're looking for cheap flight tickets. Those factors – along with how far in advance you purchase your airfare – strongly influence both price and availability.

3. Always Compare Airfare

When it comes to shopping for cheap plane tickets, there's one golden rule you should never forget: Always compare airfares. Some people don't think they have to because they "know" their favorite airline always has the best deal on cheap tickets, but no airline always has the lowest prices! Not Spirit, not Southwest, not every single time. If you don’t compare, you could pay too much, and why pay a penny more than you have to?

Nowadays, with the help of different technologies and digital platforms, it's easier than ever to track and compare airfares using a variety of filters and segmentation. Make sure you take the time to do your homework, get your research in order, and never assume that one airline in particular will always have the cheapest fare. Low prices on flights can be found nearly anywhere!

Search and Compare Flights

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, try to do so for one leg of the trip and you'll still see some savings. With practice, you'll be able to find and book cheap airline tickets more and more frequently! The key is to not let the process intimidate you, and to use each opportunity to learn in greater detail and with more precision.

  • 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. Cheaper times include dawn, overnight routes, and flights around the lunch and dinner hours.

Tip: At FareCompare can help you find the cheapest days from your city with the Getaway Map. Just type in your hometown, click the month or season you'd like the fly, and amazing deals to destinations around the world will be at your fingertips.

5. Fly the Cheapest Route

Non-stops vs. Connecting flights: Non-stop flights are always the more convenient option, but you can sometimes find much better deals on connecting flights – with savings up to 50%. Always compare the price of a non-stop with a connecting flight before you purchase your airfare. At the end of the day, only you can decide if a cheaper price is worth the inconvenience of a longer travel day.

Keep in mind that if you're checking a bag, traveling on a connecting flight can add time (and stress) to the experience if your first flight is delayed or your luggage gets lost along the way. You'll grant yourself greater flexibility and peace of mind if you travel with a carry-on only. It's also important to remember that cheap airfare doesn't always include bag fees or other "extras," so before you confirm that you've found a great deal, be sure to read the fine print.

6. Book Group Travel One Ticket at a Time

This won't always save you money, but it's worth a try!

How to Shop: When booking travel for two or more people, book just one ticket to start. Why? A quirk in airline reservation systems often means multiple tickets sold in a single transaction must be valued at the same price.

For example, say you need two tickets and the airline has one for $100, while all the others are $125. Unfortunately, the two tickets you buy in a single transaction will cost you $125 each. However, if you buy those tickets one at a time, you'll pay $100 for one, $125 for the other. Ultimately, you're saving $25 which you can then put toward another aspect of your trip!

This "trick" isn't foolproof, so proceed with caution, especially if you're planning to travel around a peak season or holiday date. Cheap flights are tougher to come by in high-demand periods, and airfares can be more limited.

7. Set Price Alerts

Of course, we saved the best tip for last. How to be sure you're getting top access to the cheapest flights? Set a FareCompare airfare alert and we'll do the work for you! These alerts notify you when airfare prices drop, allowing you to pounce on the best deals and cheapest tickets as soon as they become available.

If you're wondering when's the cheapest time to buy flights in 2024, we've got your back. Compare airlines, flight options, and more using a variety of filters that ensures you lock in on cheap flights and the best itinerary for you.

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