Why Tuesdays are the Best Day to Fly – If You Want to Save Money

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Tuesday, even Wednesday, has long been hailed as the best day to buy airline tickets. Finding cheap flights or figuring out when to buy airline tickets matters less these days if you have a travel credit card.

The miles and points earned when spending on your travel credit card can pay for all, or a large portion of your airline-ticket cost. But before we go there, let’s look at what days of the week really are the cheapest days to fly, and how far out you should be booking your tickets to land those cheap airline flights.

This article will cover

Is There REALLY a Cheapest Day to Fly?

Absolutely! It’s a supply/demand thing!

Business people are jetting around on Monday to start the week, and they’re often flying home on Thursday night or Friday. And holiday makers are jumping on planes to start their vacation on Friday or Saturday, and typically returning home on a Sunday. So…

What About a Cheapest Day to Book Your Ticket?

That leaves Tuesday and Wednesday, which, statistically, are the cheapest days to fly.

Flying on Wednesday instead of Sunday (the most-expensive day to fly) can save you, on average, about $76 per ticket.

Yes, traveling on Tuesday or Wednesday can be inconvenient. But just think creatively when planning a vacation. Instead of taking off Monday to Friday at work, take off Wednesday to Tuesday. It’s the same five days, but you get the benefit of cheap flights and you have an uninterrupted weekend at your destination, instead of two chopped up weekends that are spent recovering from the inbound flight and packing for the outbound return.

What About a Cheapest Day to Book Your Ticket?

If you believe the travel sleuths on the Internet, Tuesday is the best day to look for discount airline tickets.

Airlines, the theory holds, typically announce deals on Monday evenings, and by Tuesday at noon, other airlines are trying to match those deals. So, Tuesday is, supposedly, the best time to buy airline tickets.

Like I said: That’s the theory. Alas, theories don’t always hold up in practice. Sometimes you might get lucky and catch one of the major airlines testing a fare-price just after midnight, and sometimes that is on a Monday, but it’s really hit or miss.

The more important factor is how far in advance you book your flight…

How Far In Advance Should You Book?

For its 2018 Annual Airfare Study, CheapAir.com looked at ticket prices across 6 booking zones – periods of times in which travelers typically book their tickets.

6 booking zones – periods of times in which travelers typically book their tickets.
Basically, what CheapAir’s research shows is that people who rush to buy a ticket four to six months out are overpaying. And those who book within about two weeks of their departure date end up paying through the nose.

Instead, the savviest of travelers know the best time to book a flight is during what CheapAir.com calls the “Prime Booking Window”. This sweet spot typically lasts from 121 days before your departure date, to about three weeks out.

So, that’s the time you really want to be looking for airline deals and locking in discount airline fares.

 prime booking period as below

What we’ve learned, then, is that to find the cheapest flights and the best airline deals, you need to:

1) Begin pricing you flights about four months out.
2) Look to travel on the cheapest days to fly: Tuesday or Wednesday.
3) Watch those prices over the next several weeks … then pounce when you find a cheap airline price you’re happy with.

Seasons Impact Airline Deals Too

Pretty much every season has its pricey moments and pricey destinations.

May through July tends to be the most-popular travel period for Americans (particularly those looking for cheap international flights) while Europeans pretty much take off the entire month of August.

Winter has the obvious suspects – Christmas and New Year’s – that see airline tickets soar into the stratosphere. Fall has Thanksgiving in America, while Spring has Easter in much of the world.

Seasons Impact Airline Deals Too

That said, you can find cheap airline flights if you know the best time to book a flight in each season. Going back to that CheapAir.com study, here’s what you need to know to find discount airline tickets:

Summer:

  • Best time to buy: 47 days in advance
  • Prime Booking Window: 14 – 160 days from travel date
  • Price difference between best and worst priced days: $203

Fall:

  • Best time to buy: 69 days in advance
  • Prime Booking Window: 21 – 100 days from travel date
  • Price difference between best and worst priced days: $83

Winter:

  • Best time to buy: 62 days in advance
  • Prime Booking Window: 21 – 110 days from travel date
  • Price difference between best and worst priced day: $260

Spring:

  • Best time to buy: 90 days in advance
  • Prime Booking Window: 46 – 122 days from travel date
  • Price difference between best and worst priced day: $263

Pay Attention to “Special Days” Fares

Ok, so this isn’t exactly the same as “cheapest days to fly” or “best day to buy airline tickets.”

Nevertheless, lots of airlines the world over increasingly run fare specials tied to “special days.” Think “Black Friday Sales” that send American shoppers rampaging through malls on the day after Thanksgiving to grab steep discounts.

Pay Attention to “Special Days” Fares

Airlines have caught on to this consumer desire to spend money on special days, so they frequently run fare sales on those days or tied to those days. You’ll regularly find airline deals for cheap flights on:

  • Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving in America, and a day that retailers in other parts of the world are increasingly glomming onto to hawk their products and services locally.
  • Cyber Monday: The Monday after Thanksgiving.
  • Boxing Day: December 26th in Canada, the U.K, Australia and elsewhere.
  • Small business Saturday – Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • April 15: Tax day in America, on which airlines and retailers hope to goad taxpayers into spending their expected tax refunds on a vacation.

Be on the lookout as well for seasonal specials!

Airlines will begin running summer specials in early spring, especially offering cheap international flights, particularly to Europe. They pitch “spring-fling” getaways in the depths of winter, when days are gray and consumers are tired of polar vortexes and other winter chills.

In the middle of summer they want you to think about a fall getaway, or even begin your planning for Christmas.

The absolute best way to find out about these airline deals is to sign up for emails from the airlines you regularly fly, or the ones serving the destinations you’re interested in visiting. The moment cheap flights go on sale, you’ll know.

How to Disregard “The Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets” and Travel for Free

Saving money on a cheap airline tickets is great, and finding that cheap international flight you want is wonderful. But getting an airline ticket for free: Way better!

So, let’s wrap this up with a reminder that the best way to reduce your travel costs – the best way to travel cheaply – is by getting a travel-rewards credit card.

The miles and points you rack up turn into free flights around the country … or around the world. And if you play the game right, you can often accumulate enough miles for an international flight just by signing up for a new credit card or two.

With all the travel-rewards-card options, choosing one can be overwhelming to. Here are a few of our favorites:

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

INTRO APR on Purchases
N/A
INTRO apr on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
15.24%-25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Program
Venture® Rewards
ABOUT THIS CREDIT CARD:
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
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Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

INTRO APR on Purchases
N/A
INTRO apr on Balance Transfer
0% (first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening)
Regular APR
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
Annual Fee
$89 (waived first year)
Rewards Program
Barclaycard Arrival Rewards
Bonuses & Rewards
  • + Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • + Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
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Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

INTRO APR on Purchases
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
INTRO apr on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Program
Venture® Rewards
ABOUT THIS CREDIT CARD:
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24% - 24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
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Summary

The nut of all of this is simple: Do not wait until the last minute to book your flight, hoping through some miracle of accidental mispricing that you will be able to book that flight to Bali, for tomorrow, for just a couple hundred dollars.

Knowing the best days to buy airline tickets and the cheapest days to fly increase the likelihood that you ding the airline deals and the cheap flights — even cheap international flights — that put a smile on your face and make your wallet equally happy.

Follow the guidelines we’ve laid out above, and you will have the best chance at finding the discount airline tickets you want.

But we are curious: What has your experience been with booking cheap airline tickets?

Have you noticed, for instance, that particular days of the week are better for certain airlines?

And have you altered your vacation schedule in order to book a better-priced ticket for a flight leaving on a day different than you originally wanted?

Leave us a note in the comments section below.