When it comes to the cheapest days to book flights, you should know there’s no single rule that applies all the time. In fact, so many factors go into the cost of flights that it’s hard to know what prices will be from one day to the next, let alone over the course of a year or on any given day of a single month.
That said, there are some recognizable patterns when you look at the costs for airfare over a long enough timeline, and some organizations have done studies to find out the cheapest day of the week to book flights. This includes Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report, which used actual flight data to help consumers decide on the most affordable times to book airfare or fly the friendly skies within the U.S. or overseas.
With the cost of flights on the rise, it never makes sense to pay more for travel than you have to. If you’re hoping to save on airfare this year and are curious when you should book and which days of the week to fly, read on to learn more.
Cheapest day of the week to book a flight
So, what is the cheapest day to book a flight? In order to find out, Expedia used data compiled by the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which has information on 15 billion flights across 490 airlines.
While the cheapest day to actually pay for airfare can vary from one week to the next, Expedia data shows consumers who book airfare on Sundays instead of Fridays tend to save approximately 5 percent on domestic flights and 15 percent on international airfare. Expedia also notes that Sunday was the cheapest day to book flights in 2021 and 2022, but that travelers saved 5 percent more when booking on Sundays in 2022 compared to the previous year.
If you want to save more, data shows you should book at least one month before travel for domestic departures to save approximately 10 percent. “The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls between 28 – 35 days before departure — so about a month in advance of travel,” noted Expedia in its press release.
Meanwhile, booking international airfare six months out tends to yield the best results. In fact, travelers who booked international travel six months in advance of departure saved approximately 10 percent when you compare to those who booked within a two-month window of their departure date.
Most affordable day of the week to travel
While booking your flight on a Sunday helps you get the lowest price, actually flying domestically on a Wednesday may help you save 15 percent off airfare. Data shows that, almost across the board, travelers who flew on Wednesdays instead of the beginning of a week saved this much on domestic flights.
For international flights, savings from flying on a Wednesday averaged out at 10 percent when compared to flying on a weekend date.
What factors impact flight prices?
A range of factors can impact the cost of flights, but most of it boils down to supply and demand. For example, costs for airfare tend to be less expensive during off-peak season to any destination, whereas prices surge during peak travel times when demand is higher.
Fuel costs can also impact flight costs, along with the cost of labor and other underlying costs for airlines. Ultimately, airlines use complex algorithms to determine pricing for their fares.
Tips for finding cheap flights
To get the best deal on domestic or international airfare in 2023, consider the following tips:
- Book airfare on Sunday. Data shows that, at least a good part of the time, booking airfare on Sunday is cheaper than other days of the week. If you have the option to shop for travel at any time, waiting until Sunday could yield 5 percent to 15 percent in savings.
- Be willing to fly mid-week. Since Wednesdays tend to be the cheapest day to fly, see if you can tweak your travel plans so you depart and fly home during the week instead of on weekend days.
- Set price alerts. Use a tool like the app Hopper to set up price alerts that notify you when airfare prices drop significantly, or when their technology says it’s the cheapest day to book.
- Avoid peak travel times. Not only can traveling off-peak help you score significant savings on airfare and hotels, but Expedia data shows that off-peak travel comes with fewer cancellations and delays overall.
- Earn airline miles. Consider signing up for frequent flyer programs that let you book airfare with miles you earn for flying and other activities. You can also start racking up miles for airfare with an airline credit card or travel credit card.
The bottom line
The cheapest days to book flights may be different from one week to the next, and the same is true for the day you actually travel. However, taking a full view of the data shows that some travel dates tend to be less expensive on the booking end and the traveling end — at least most of the time.
Arming yourself with this information is one of the best ways to save on airfare over the long run, but it’s not the only way. If you combine savvy shopping with a huge stash of airline miles, you can pay even less for airfare all year long.
Learn more: Check out Bankrate’s travel toolkit for tips and tricks on how to maximize travel with a credit card.