Finding the best deal on flights is more about how far in advance you book and less about what day of the week you book.
According to studies by travel shopping sites and airlines, the best time to book a flight is between three months and three weeks before you plan to leave. At three weeks before the flight, airlines are trying to reach capacity and tend to drop their prices. But after this three-week mark, you’re more likely to see tickets going up in price as people who procrastinated booking their ticket scramble for a seat.
In this article, we’ll compare prices when purchasing tickets with different popular travel sites to find the best days to book—and take—flights.
What Day of the Week Should You Book?
The myth that you can find the lowest ticket prices on Tuesdays isn’t really true anymore. So, what day of the week should you book?
The online travel agency CheapAir.com recently did a study to try to get to the bottom of this. It found that prices only fluctuate by an average of 1% from weekday to weekday, meaning no day is better than any other to book.
In the past, you could generally find the lowest fare prices on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but these days no longer have the lowest prices on average. Pricing is automated now, so fares change with the market. Although Tuesday and Wednesday used to be the preferred days for sales and deals, there are too many factors involved in pricing these days to predict with any accuracy what days of the week have the cheapest flights.
With how much fare prices fluctuate, it doesn’t really matter what day of the week you buy a ticket.
What CheapAir.com did find, however, is that Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to actually fly. On average, you can save $73 a ticket when flying these days.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were found to be the most expensive on average, but the most expensive of these depends on where you’re going and which airline you’re using.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at how to book cheap flights with different booking sites. For all of our examples, you’re taking a trip from JFK to LAX and booking a one-way flight. Here’s how to get the best prices.
Google Flights has one of the best flight search engines in the game (read our guide on the Google ITA flight Matrix to learn more about this technology) and offers the ability to customize your flight search down to every detail. But when should you book a ticket using Google Flights?
First off, you’re going to want to click on your date to see the calendar. This will show you the lowest prices for every day as far in the future as you want. You can compare prices throughout the week to help you decide when to fly (this is true of every booking site).
For three to four weeks from now, the lowest ticket price is the same for a one-way ticket. Three and a half weeks from now, this ticket happens to be for a JetBlue flight priced at $77. We found that it doesn’t really matter whether you book on a Tuesday night or Friday morning.
Starting five weeks in advance, the price of the same ticket spikes up to $139 before dropping back down to $77 for the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday of the same week, the price goes up to $136 and down slightly to $123 on Saturday.
After doing several comparisons, we found that Monday and Tuesday tend to be the cheapest days to fly and Friday and Saturday tend to take turns with the highest price, no matter how far out you’re booking.
For the sake of comparison, we’ll generally leave holidays out of our calculations because patterns go out the window. Around Christmas, ticket prices are all over the place. On December 20th, a ticket will cost $149. On December 21st, $263. The prices top out at $263 on Thursday, December 23rd.
Especially if you know that you’ll be flying during a travel peak, your best bet is to try to fly at the beginning of the week on Monday when booking through Google Flights. Prices may change every couple of hours, but the day you book will have little influence. Select “Track Prices” to receive updates.
We also took a look at Expedia. The price calendar on this site is color-coded: green indicates the lowest prices, grey indicates average or typical, and red indicates the highest prices.
Looking for flights about three weeks out, the price of a flight was $77 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and $78 on Wednesday. Searching for flights farther out two months in advance, we noticed a theme. Tuesday usually has a low price, but Expedia claims that its lowest average daily prices are actually on Fridays. Monday and Wednesday are usually pretty comparable at a price slightly higher than Tuesday, and Sunday flights tend to be the most expensive.
But as far as when you should book, Expedia recommends purchasing your tickets on a Sunday to save the most money. Booking on a Thursday or Friday will probably cost the most.
If you’re looking for a cheap ticket, you might look to Orbitz. This travel site has been around for two decades and continues to specialize in discount flights on a number of (mostly budget) carriers.
Like the others, the Orbitz flight search tool has a calendar that shows projected prices by date. Across all of our searches, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tended to be most likely to have the lowest prices. If there was a great deal, such as $77 for a flight three weeks from now, it was probably going to be the same from Monday to Wednesday. But if these days had different prices, Monday was just a little more likely to be the most expensive. Tuesdays and Wednesdays often shared low prices.
We found the best prices as early as two weeks in advance—earlier than that and you’re paying high last-minute prices. When you hit about the three-and-a-half-month mark, the rates start going up and becoming a little less predictable.
As far as which days are the most expensive, that turned out to be either Sunday or Friday, as a rule. We were surprised to find Saturday tied for the best deals fairly regularly.
Kayak is probably another site you check when you need a flight and you need it cheap. This site offers bookings for just about any type of travel you might want and you can sometimes save on flights by adding hotels and rental cars to your trip.
This site works a little differently when you’re comparing prices. Instead of showing you a calendar with estimated prices for each day, Kayak gives you an expected range such as $58+, $119+, and $241+. Unfortunately, we found these estimates to be pretty misleading. For example, a ticket four weeks from the time we’re writing this says it’ll cost $58+, but when you actually search prices, the lowest is $77. This is common, so just keep this in mind.
The cheapest days to fly are usually Monday through Thursday. If you have to pick one, bet on Monday. Friday and Sunday are almost always the most expensive days and Thursday is often the second most expensive. The best time to book through Kayak is about two or three weeks in advance when ticket prices are the same every day of the week and about as low as they’re going to get (barring a last-minute flash deal, which we don’t recommend holding out for). Try to book no farther than two-and-a-half months in advance for the best deals.
Like Google Flights, Kayak allows you to track prices so you’re the first to know if a ticket you were looking at has changed its rate.
Skyscanner may be a UK-based agency, but that doesn’t mean you can’t score deals on domestic US flights.
Unfortunately, this travel site makes comparing day-to-day prices just a little more difficult than the others (no convenient calendar), so we researched the best days to book so you don’t have to.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday have the lowest prices whether you’re booking three weeks or three months in advance. For example, we found tickets for as low as $76 on each of these days when searching for flights five weeks out. Often, Thursday is right there with these three, but it might be just a tad bit more expensive (e.g. $86). Prices shoot up on Friday, dip a little on Saturday, and go back up on Sunday. Friday and Sunday usually offer the same prices, which can be two times more expensive than the lowest price or more (e.g. $148).
This site shows you the best, cheapest, and fastest flights for whatever day you’ve selected so you can compare not just the best prices but the most convenient flights.
We felt we had to include the less popular CheapOAir, the agency responsible for the study mentioned earlier, because it lives up to its name.
This site actually offers the lowest deals we’ve seen for the one-way JFK to LAX example flight we set up. Three weeks out, you can get a ticket for as low as $68.68. This price was found for a Wednesday and the Tuesday before was just $69.73. On that Thursday, $69.73. In general, we found Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday to be the best days to fly. Prices fluctuate very little across these days. You want to book about three weeks in advance when using this site to get the best deals.
The most expensive day is generally Sunday, but not by a whole lot. For example, six weeks out, you can get a Sunday flight ticket for as little as $78.79. If you don’t mind flying Spirit or Frontier or taking a longer flight, CheapOAir can probably save you the most money.
For our final comparison, we’re looking at Momondo. This booking site has been a subsidiary of Kayak for several years, but many people choose it over its parent company.
This flight search engine stands out from the others because it displays a bar graph at the top of the search page that shows you the price for the date you’ve chosen compared to prices for the dates around it. The graph displays day-by-day prices for three weeks at a time, and you can click on your selected date to see a calendar that gives price ranges (just like Kayak). Deal-hunting was easier with this tool than any of the others.
We found that Tuesday and Wednesday usually have the lowest prices, with Wednesday having a slight edge. Sunday and Friday have the highest prices, and Monday and Thursday fall somewhere in the middle. Start searching for flights at least three weeks in advance.
Finding low prices on tickets is not really about what day of the week you book the flight. What matters most is how far out you book and when you fly. We found that many travel sites offered the same prices and tended to follow the same patterns as far as which days of the week had the lowest price, so just use your favorite agency. If you have loyalty points with an airline, you should always use those to save money on tickets and fees.
So if you came here for an answer to which days you should fly: Monday through Wednesday are the best days to fly and Friday and Sunday are the worst.
If you are able to be flexible about exactly when you depart and which airlines you use, you’ll have the best chance of saving money. Try comparing prices across different travel booking sites as well as booking directly with your airline of choice.