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best day to book flights

The Best Day to Book a Flight & Buy Airfare Isn’t What You Think…

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Raise your hand if you've ever stayed up late or waited until Tuesday in hopes of booking a cheaper flight. Okay, now lower your hand … and never do it again. Because the truth is that almost every tip and trick you've heard about the best day to book flights is wrong.

That old Tuesday trope is one of countless outdated (or just flat-out wrong) myths that continue to circulate to this day. Here's the truth: Tuesday is not the cheapest day to book flights – the best day to book flights is whenever you find a cheap deal. And cheap flights can pop up at any hour, every day of the week.

It's less about the day, and more about using the right tools (and having the right mindset) to find a great deal. We'll show you how it works, and why there's no magic day to find cheap flights.
 

 

The Best Day to Book Flights Is…

You've heard it from friends and coworkers. It's widely accepted as gospel: “The cheapest day to book flights is on Tuesdays.”

But it's time to set the record straight: It's just not true.

Yes, you can find cheap flights on Tuesdays. But you might get a better deal on a Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or any other day of the week. There is not one special, best day of the week to book flights.

But don't just take our word for it. According to an analysis from the team behind Google Flights, there's been a negligible, 1.9% savings when you book your flights Tuesday(s), Wednesday(s), or Thursday(s) instead of Saturday or Sunday over the past five years.

The Tuesday tip we've all heard is a convenient but outdated myth that ignores the fact that airfare pricing is constantly changing. Airlines tweak their pricing by the hour to try to win over more customers and undercut their competitors. So don't assume you're getting the best flight deal just because you're booking on a Tuesday.

Take it from us: Our team of flight deal analysts spends all day, every day searching for the cheapest fares to send to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. There are no best days to book flights: The best fares and sales don't just happen on only one day of the week. In fact, we find cheap flightsmistake fares, and unadvertised award sales every single day of the year.

One of the craziest mistake fares we found in the past few years? Atlanta to Chile – nonstop and roundtrip – for just $63. And we found it on a Thursday at 10 a.m.
 

flights to Santiago best day to book flights 

And this mistake fare to Dublin (DUB) for just $135 roundtrip? We found it last month … on a Wednesday. 

 

Dublin flight deal

 

Those are just two examples of literally tens of thousands over our years of finding flight deals. But it's obvious: There is no single cheapest day of the week to book flights. So please, we beg you … purge that from your memories.

And while we're on the topic of travel myths, there's one more myth we need to clear up…

Stop clearing your cookies when you're shopping for flights. Seriously: Clearing your cookies or searching incognito for flights won't magically make cheaper flights appear. This is another travel myth about booking flights that has long been rampant in the travel world. It's time to put this myth to rest.
 

 

Other sites and online travel agencies may do it, but airlines aren't manipulating airfare pricing based on whether you've searched for a flight two, three, or 13 times. Our team searches hundreds of routes daily. If airlines were playing these tricks with cookies, we'd never be able to find a flight deal!

 

Google's New “Cheapest Time to Book” Feature

Among the many reasons travelers should be using Google Flights, it's packed with data-fueled information to help steer you towards the best deals. It keeps getting better and better – and its latest feature will give you even more insights on the best time to book.

On select searches, Google will now display when prices are typically lowest on the route you're searching – giving you some critical information on whether it's better to book now or wait.
 

cheapest time to book google flights 

The color-coded price tracking information has been a part of Google Flights for years now, giving travelers a look at how high the price is compared to the average. But now Google Flights is giving you an average booking window so you can figure out when it's best to book your chosen itinerary.

That's a huge perk for Google Flights users; it even tells you how much you stand to save by waiting or not! If the savings are negligible, you can even just grab the flights you want for peace of mind, too.

Read more: Want to Know When to Book Flights? A New Google Flights Feature Shows You

 

The Best Day to Travel for Cheap Flights

This isn't to say timing it right isn't important. But it's not about when you buy airline tickets … it's more about when you actually get on the plane. 

If you're trying to figure out what is the best day of the week to book flights, you're asking the wrong question. The better question to ask is what day of the week is cheapest to fly. And that means flying on off-peak days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are often much cheaper days to fly. Shifting your departure and return dates by just a day or two can save you hundreds of dollars. So stretch that weekend into a slightly longer weekend and save on flights.

Avoiding peak travel seasons is key, too. Airfare during the middle of summer is typically much more expensive – and the same goes for major holidays. Traveling during shoulder seasons – from mid-April through early June and late August through early October – is the key to more savings. If you can travel in the fall or winter instead, the savings can grow.

Read more on the cheapest days to fly and travel in 2024! 

 

The Best Time to Book Flights

It's simple when it really comes down to it. The best time to book is when you find a cheap flight! The best flight deals rarely last long … so when you see the deal, book it ASAP.

Worried about jumping the gun before consulting with your friend or partner or asking for time off work? Don't worry – that's what the free 24-hour cancellation policy is for. Any flight to, from, or within the U.S. booked directly with the airline can be canceled for a full refund within 24 hours of booking. 

Thrifty Tip: Most major airlines ditched change fees throughout the pandemic, letting travelers change or cancel their flights for free – so long as you don't buy the cheapest basic economy fares. That means if you change your mind later, you can simply change your flight or cancel it for a voucher.

If you don't have the time to commit to searching for cheap fares frequently, we've got you covered. Get instant alerts to the hottest domestic and international flight deals, mistake fares, and award sales we find with our Thrifty Traveler Premium service. We find flight deals seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we're already seeing deals for travel throughout the rest of the year and into spring 2025.
 

thrifty traveler premium deal to hawaii 

Want to know when we find flight deals from your home airport? Join Thrifty Traveler Premium

But when you are shopping on your own, it's critical to use the best search engine possible. And there's one tool that stands above the rest.

 

The No. 1 Tool You Should Use to Search

If you're searching for cheap fares with online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Kayak, and Priceline, it's time to rethink things. OTAs purchase flights from the airlines to sell on their site – sometimes at a discount, and other times at a markup. You can't always count on big savings through these sites … and even when you can, it may not be worth the potential headaches unless the savings are massive.

That's why you should start each and every search with Google Flights.

Google's search tool pulls flight pricing from nearly every airline, giving you the most up-to-date pricing. You can easily set filters, browse the calendar for the cheapest dates to travel, and search the world map for the cheapest destinations from your airport. Once you've found the perfect cheap flight for you, Google Flights redirects you to book directly with the airline.

 

 

Google Flights is incredibly user-friendly, featuring some of the most powerful tools and filters for getting the best flight deal. Here are a few you should know about:

  • Get Google Flights price alerts on your travel dates when the flights you're eyeing go up (or down) in price
  • Not sure where you want to go? Use Google Flights Explore to see and book flight prices worldwide from your airport, helping you find the cheapest destination by letting you explore what's available
  • Search to (or from) multiple cities to find the cheapest fares in your area

You can always compare the flights you find through Google Flights against your other favorite flight search engines like Expedia, Orbitz, Skyscanner, or others. But we always recommend booking directly with the airline rather than with online travel agencies. You'll likely save yourself a ton of trouble if your travel plans change down the road.

 

The Best Day to Book Flights: Domestic vs. International Flights

Now, you know that there's no specific day or time flight deals happen. But there are best practices when it comes to timing your searches.

Here's the key: Avoid booking within 30-45 days before your flight. Some airlines offer decent flight prices in the weeks leading up to departure, but these are few and far between.

In general, and especially pre-pandemic, airlines hike prices for last-minute flights. They assume only business travelers and travelers who need to be somewhere soon are buying airline tickets last-minute. Airlines know these travelers will pay whatever it takes to get there. And trust us, you don't want to get stuck in that position a few weeks before a trip.

Never bank on getting a last-second fare. Instead, we recommend booking your flight at least 30 days before a domestic trip. For international flights, give yourself even more time: start looking at flight prices at least two to six months beforehand. These general rules of thumb will help make sure you're not paying too much.

You can search for and book flights up to 11 months (and sometimes more) in advance. Start looking early, watch the price fluctuations, and book when prices are low.

And remember: Start your travel planning by booking the cheap flight first – on the dates that are cheapest to travel. Once you have that cheap flight locked up, you can plan lodging, activities, and the rest of your trip. Not following the Flight First Rule is the #1 mistake that travelers make.

 

When to Book Holiday Flights

Flights during the holidays are almost always more expensive. Flying mid-December to early January will cost you. Thanksgiving flights can be tough on your budget, too.

While we do still find flight deals over these dates, it’s best to avoid peak holiday travel and try to move your flights to early December or later in January. It'll save you hundreds.

But we know that sometimes, travel during these times is unavoidable. And if that's the case, here is what you'll want to know.

According to some Google Flights analysis, the lowest prices for Thanksgiving are usually available 36 to 74 days before departure, with the lowest point on average about 52 days out. For the lowest fares, those numbers mean you'll want to start searching for Thanksgiving flights around Sept. 10. The lowest fares are typically found around Oct. 2. And the best deals are all gone by about Oct. 19. Yes, that's right: Odds are, the decent deals are all long gone by now – unless you want to take a big trip abroad over Thanksgiving!

Need to get home for Christmas? With the Christmas holiday, the range is even bigger. If you're looking to travel domestically over the Christmas holiday, the lowest flight prices can be found, on average, between 20 and 88 days ahead of time. For the lowest fares, you want to start searching for domestic Christmas flights around Oct. 8 – and the best deals are all gone by about Nov. 1

Here are some tips for booking holiday travel:

  • Start searching several months ahead of time
  • Use Google Flights to search for the cheapest dates to travel
  • Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays
  • Set a Google Flights Price Alert if your travel dates for the holidays are set in stone

One way to get around paying for a peak holiday flight is to use points or miles to book your flight. Book as early as possible and you should be able to snag a flight for a normal amount of points. Get started with points and miles, and take your next holiday flight for free (or close to it).

Read more: 10 Tips to Find Cheap Flights

 

Bottom Line

It's time to let go of the myth that searching on Tuesdays – or any specific day – is the key to finding cheap flights. There is no ironclad best day to book flights.

The truth is that you can find an amazing flight deal on any day of the week. And when you do, you should book it. We promise this mindset will change the way you book travel … for good.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

13 Responses

  • I have status with United and want only united or united partner flights? I love the idea of getting notified but can I limit the airlines?

    • Hi Patricia! We do not yet have a feature to limit the airlines, but you can easily see which airline is associated with deal and only book United flight deals 🙂

  • Hi,.
    I’m targetting flights from Kuala Lumpur to Glasgow on middle September. That’s the shoulder season, right? Do You it will be cheaper by next weekend? What’s your opinion?

    Tq.

  • How do 2 planes leave Las Vegas at the same time/same airline both say 4 hr 45min to the destination but one of them lands an hour later. The price is $90 difference. What am I missing? I don’t want to make a mistake in booking my trip.

  • Hi, very informative article. We’re planning a trip to Montego Bay Jamaica on mid August from the Bay Area. From there to DC area before returning home. Should I look at 3 one way fares?

  • That’s not true. Anyone is welcome to try searching a few times and see what happens. I just did it now and the price rose from 150 to 250 euros, then i searched with a VPN and surprise surprise, the price went down again.

  • You can promote your services without being misleading.

    So the best day based on oh years of data and analysis is wrong because you *may* find a cheaper flight another time. Just because you find an outlier or accidental price doesn’t discredit actual studies.

    • There is not a single study that has been published in the last 10+ years about a best day to book flights that holds any water. It is outdated.

      It’s not about promoting our service. It’s about sharing our expertise and knowledge of how flight pricing works as a result of that service.

  • I love all your tips and tricks, great job to everyone at Thirfty. However, I have to state that telling people to stop clearing cookies or using incognito is harmful. While youre correct in stating it wont make flights cheaper, by NOT doing so will run the risk of make flights more expensive if you search multiple times. Your cookies and IP address are stored in airline systems and they DO raises prices on your searches in hopes you will book the higher price out of FOMO, I have seen this personally. I search a flight get a price, search again, get the same price, search a few times and suddenly that same original flight has gone up $100 with the cheaper flight being gone from existence…..until…. I use incognito and magically that original cheaper flight has returned. Not all airlines do it, and its not all the time but it DOES happen. So to avoid it, simply use incognito always. Why risk it?

  • KAYAK isn’t an OTA. You’ve got that one wrong, mate. It’s a meta search engine for travel that’s far superior to Google Flights, IMO. You do your readers a disservice lumping it in with Expedia et al. A travel columnist really ought to know that…

  • Google Flights drives me to the brink of insanity, every single time I use it. I loathe it, and you keep touting it. Due to the fact that one cannot purge Basic Economy from any and every search for eternity, the entire site is useless because THAT’S THE FARE THEY USE UNLESS SOME RICH IDIOT FLIES ONLY FIRST OR BUSINESS CLASS. Guess what. There are a lot of sane people in the world who wouldn’t dream of using Basic Economy because it’s merely a trick and not a realistic option. So why the heck does Google Flights not allow it to be ignored? And you aren’t doing so well yourselves. You also ignore the fact that Basic Economy is basically a bait-and-switch tactic and should be outlawed as such. I can’t imagine paying the crazy price I currently pay you for another year because you’re in love with Google Flights and your crush has you not thinking straight.

  • Can using a VPN to make your booking appear to originate from another country save you money? Do you get charged in the foreign currency?

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