Raise your hand if you’ve ever stayed up until 11:59 p.m. on a Tuesday night in hopes of booking a cheaper flight. We won’t tell. Okay, now lower your hand.
You’ll never do it again. Because the truth is that everything you’ve heard about the secret day or time to score the best deals on flights is a myth.
The best time to book a flight is when you find a cheap deal. And cheap flights can pop up at any hour of every day of the week.
We’ll show you how it works, and why there’s no magic day to find cheap flights.
Travel Myth: Cheap Flights on Tuesday Night?
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.
It’s a convenient but outdated myth that ignores the fact that airfare pricing is constantly changing.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.
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 they don’t happen on one day of week. In fact, we find crazy cheap flights, mistake fares, and unadvertised award sales every day of the year.
So don’t assume you’re getting the best deal on your flights just because you’re booking on a Tuesday night.
Travel at the Right Time
That’s not to say timing it right isn’t important. But it’s not about when you buy your ticket: It’s about when you actually get on the plane.
That means flying on off-peak days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are often much cheaper. Shifting your departure and return dates by just a day or two can save you hundreds of dollars.
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 saving more.
Read more: These are the cheapest times to travel
But we need to clear up one more travel myth…
Stop Clearing Your Cookies
Seriously: clearing your cookies won’t make cheaper flights magically 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.
Airlines aren’t manipulating airfare pricing based on if you search a flight two or three 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!
The Best Time to Book Is…
When you find a cheap flight! The best flight deals don’t last long, so when you see the deal, book the deal.
Worried about jumping the gun before consulting with your friend or partner or asking for time off? 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: Worried about booking flights amid this coronavirus uncertainty? Most airlines offer free change or cancellation to any flight booked by May 31.
If you don’t have the time to commit to searching for cheap fares frequently, we’ve got you covered. You can see the best domestic deals we find in our free daily newsletter. And if you want instant alerts to the hottest international flight deals, mistake fares, and award sales we find, check out our Thrifty Traveler Premium service.
Thrifty Tip: Learn more about how our flight deal alerts work.
But when you are searching on your own, it’s important that you’re using the best search engine possible. And there’s one tool that stands above the rest.
The Tool You Should Be Searching With
If you’re searching for cheap fares with online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Kayak, and Priceline, it’s time to rethink the way you search. OTAs purchase flights from the airlines to sell on their site, oftentimes at a markup.
So 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 user-friendly and houses some of our favorite tools and filters for getting the best flight deal. Here are a few you should know about:
- Get price alerts on your travel dates when the flights you’re eyeing go up (or down) in price
- Use the Explore tool to see flight prices worldwide from your airport, helping you find the cheapest destination
- 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 engine. But with all the uncertainty around coronavirus, now more than ever we recommend booking directly with the airline rather than with online travel agencies. You’ll save yourself a headache if travel plans change down the road.
It’s time to let go of the myth that Tuesdays – or any day – are the key to finding cheap 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.