In the endless pursuit of cheap flights, too many travelers focus on the day they book their flights. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to any old Tuesday, there is no magical best day to book flights. Analysis released by the team behind Google Flights shows that shopping for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays instead of Saturdays or Sundays isn't saving you money.
It matters more when you actually get on the plane than when you buy your tickets. Flying when there's less demand, such as on a Tuesday or Wednesday, can mean cheaper flights.
Airfare is constantly changing, which means a good bargain or mistake fare can pop up any day of the week when you're booking flights. But there are consistent patterns that compare and show there are often cheaper days of the week to travel – and focusing on those cheapest days to fly throughout the week is a surefire, expert way to find cheap flights.
In this post, we'll compare and answer your most burning questions about the cheapest days to travel. Because something as simple enough as changing which day you fly by just a day is the key to cheap travel and could save you hundreds – or more – on your next trip.
- Is There a Best Day to Book a Flight?
- Best Day of the Week to Fly
- Ways to Find Cheap Flights No Matter the Day of the Week
Is There a Best Day to Book a Flight?
You’ve heard it from friends and coworkers. It’s widely accepted as gospel: “The cheapest day to book flights is on Tuesdays.”
There's just one problem: It's not true.
Sure, some airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines may release recurring sales on Tuesdays … or on Fridays … or even on Monday. But these advertised “sales” aren't often much of a discount: You might get a better deal on a Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or any other day of the week.
There's no specific day of the week or time that flights are the cheapest to book. That's a convenient yet outdated myth that ignores the fact airfare is constantly changing not just daily, but by the hour and even by the minute.
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. The best fares and sales don’t happen on only one day of the week. In fact, we find crazy cheap flights, mistake fares, and unadvertised award sales every single day of the year.
But while there may not be a cheaper day to book tickets, there are cheaper days to actually board that plane. We see it all the time as our team of flight deal analysts search for the best deals: Some days are just cheaper to actually fly than others – and that's what you should focus on.
So, what is the cheapest day to fly? Let's take a look.
Best Day of the Week to Fly
Let's go over this again: Flight prices are unpredictable and constantly changing. There's no exact science or rule behind it, but there is an undeniable trend for the cheapest days to fly. So what are the cheapest days to fly?
It might depend on where you're going.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the Cheapest Days to Fly Domestically
Typically, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday is the cheapest day to fly. If you can structure your travel schedule around these days, these will likely be the best days to fly – both for a lower cost and a less-hectic airport experience.
According to Google's data, flying Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday was 12% cheaper than flying over the weekend over the last five years. But specifically for domestic travel within the U.S., flying on those weekdays is actually 20% cheaper!
Why? Well, they're the slowest travel days throughout the week. Many travelers head out for a long weekend on Thursdays or Fridays and return on Sundays. Business travelers head out for work on Mondays and return on Thursday or Friday. That means airlines are eager to sell more tickets on the other, off-peak days … resulting in lower prices and the cheapest days of the week to fly.
So, you guessed it, that means the most expensive days to book flights are those days when most travelers are heading out – or coming home. That means flying Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays will typically be more expensive. If you can change up the way you travel and avoid flying these days, this simple tweak could save you hundreds.
Let's take a look at an example. Say you want to head down to Florida from the Midwest this summer. Flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) are significantly cheaper on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Saturday departures are often a bit cheaper than other days, too.
Compared to some other days of departure, this simple change could save you up to $150 or more on these roundtrip flights.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are the Cheapest Days to Fly International Routes
What about international travel? Is there a cheapest day of the week to fly internationally?
Many of the same concepts apply: Flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays will almost always be your best bet. Let's take a look at another example.
Let's say we want to fly from New York (JFK) to Rome, Italy (FCO) this fall. Let's take a look at the calendar again via Google Flights:
Again, this follows the midweek flight rule to a T. Flights are at least $60 less – if not hundreds of dollars cheaper – on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for this search, though you see a few cheap Monday and Thursday departures here, too.
This is just one example, but the trend is clear. Wherever in the world you're heading, it could be worth flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday for some extra savings.
Early Morning, Midday & Late-Night Flights Can Be The Cheapest Times to Fly
There are clearly cheaper days to fly. But what about the cheapest times to fly?
It's all about supply and demand: Just like the trends we see with the cheapest days, the time of day travelers prefer to fly tends to be more expensive. Want to fly out late afternoon after the workday, and return home mid-morning without having to wake up early? So does everyone else. Mid-morning and early evening flights are often more expensive – though this trend isn't quite as set in stone as the cheapest days to fly.
If you're looking to save, early morning, midday, or late-night flights can often be the cheapest time to fly. And if you're booking a transcontinental or international flight, you could score some substantial savings if you're willing to take a red-eye flight overnight.
Let's take a look at one example with nonstop Delta flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Orlando (MCO) next month. The late evening flight that gets you in at almost 11 p.m. might not be your first pick, but it could save you at least $50 on your flight, if not much more:
This won't always be the case. Airlines will often have cheaper fares at better times if you're willing to change your dates. It may simply be that the lowest fares at preferable times have sold out.
And of course, flight prices will vary based on several factors besides just the day and time. Here are a few other things to consider:
- Where you're flying to and from. Depending on where you're flying from and heading to, certain days may be cheaper based on the number of planes heading to that destination.
- Your flight preferences. If you want to fly nonstop, certain routes only operate on certain days, so that may limit your options. If you want to fly business class, those cheapest dates could vary based on business travel demand on certain days of the week like Mondays and Fridays.
- Which airline you're flying. Budget carriers have limited flight schedules, and are often an exception to this rule because flights are normally low on most days of the week.
Here are some other factors that can help your cheap flight search when it comes to the best days to fly.
Ways to Find Cheap Flights No Matter the Day of the Week
Book Flights in Advance, Not Last-Minute
Avoid booking within 30 days of your flight – and book even farther in advance for international flights.
Typically, airlines hike last-minute flight prices because they know travelers booking that close to their travel date are desperate and will pay whatever it costs to get to their destination. You do not want to fall into this price gouge trap!
So don't bank on getting a deal on a last-second fare. While the cheapest days to fly will still be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, flight prices on all days of the week will typically skyrocket within a few days or even weeks of the travel date.
Travel During Shoulder Seasons
What are the cheapest months to fly in 2024? For most destinations, peak summer is madness for travel. And that high demand for peak season raises flight prices accordingly.
Typically, flight prices increase from mid-May or maybe early June through to mid-August or early September as families get out for summer break and other travelers set out for sunny adventures. There are fewer sales and discounts, which means prices can be double the norm, if not more. Not to mention, your destination could be packed with tourists.
Instead, try traveling during the shoulder season. It's often much cheaper to travel from May to early June and September through mid-October. The weather is still relatively warm during the shoulder season, and you'll beat the crazy summer crowds. This is when we find the best international flight deals!
Avoid the Holidays
Trying to score a cheaper flight? This is one rule you'll need to stick to: Avoid traveling during the winter holidays like Christmas and New Years.
Each year, we see flight prices skyrocket for travel from mid-December to mid-January, surrounding the major winter holidays. While we do find a few flight deals around these dates, it’s best to avoid holiday travel. Can you move up your travel dates to early December or later in January? This slight change could save you hundreds.
Figuring out when are flights cheapest and finding a great deal on flights can feel like a full-time job with all the changes in airfare, but use this general rule when booking: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are typically the cheapest days to fly.
The more popular the time to travel, the more expensive flights are likely to be. That goes for the season, month, and even down to the day and time you fly. Start your trip planning with this knowledge in mind before you request that PTO or book any other travel plans.
Scoring a cheap flight on these days can save you hundreds, and it's likely those are cheaper days to take the train and check into your hotel, too.