Book flights on the weekends
You’ll often hear that Tuesday is the best day to shop online for plane tickets because that’s when airlines reportedly adjust post-weekend prices. But data released in 2017 by aviation insights company Hopper, which tracks and predicts fares, said at best the average savings are $18 on less than 2 percent of U.S. domestic flights if you book immediately after the carriers adjust prices. A report last year from Airlines Reporting Corporation says the weekend, especially Sunday, is the best time to book a flight to get the lowest average ticket price.
Avoid flying on Sunday or Monday
You often hear that the lowest fares are for flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other sources recommend starting your trip on Thursday or Friday. Some travel sites also claim Saturday is a good day to fly because travelers tend to book return flights on Sundays to extend their vacations. Data on global travel from Airlines Reporting Corporation suggest Friday flights have some of the lowest average ticket prices. The common thread in most of these recommendations isn’t what days to fly but what days not to fly: Sundays, when leisure travelers are coming home, and Mondays, a popular day for business travel.
Extend short trips into the following weekend
For cities with a lot of business travel traffic, basically any sizeable city, a round-trip ticket that returns within the same work week tends to cost more than if that same trip were extended to include Saturday night at the destination. Even though experts dn’t recommend flying on Sunday if you want a cheaper ticket, many people have no choice but to travel on Sunday. So if you have to, check for early or late departures on Sunday to avoid the midday crush.
Buy tickets in advance, but not too far in advance
Recent research from Cheapair.com, an airfare tracker and booker, found that the lowest fares on average change roughly every five to six days. The best time to buy a plane ticket is on average about 70 days in advance of departure. But that number of days in advance varies constantly, and as a general rule it’s best to book a flight in a sweet spot of roughly 21 days to 121 days in advance of a departure.
Take advantage of online price comparisons
The internet is such a powerful tool for booking your own travel that it’s posing an existential threat to the travel agency business. But not all online services are equally useful. Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline are industry leaders, but a little research will offer many other options, including flights offered directly on airline websites. Find three or four reliable sites and cross-compare the fares they provide.