WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK IS BEST FOR LOWEST AIR FARES?
Q – We are in the fortunate position of planning two business trips and two pleasure trips to Europe and Asia in the next 12 months. We enjoy the search aspect of planning but we never know exactly when we should be purchasing the ticket to get the best pricing. As you know, prices seem to change by the minute. We keep reading there are certain days of the week when the “savvy” travelers try to make all of their reservations. We would really appreciate any insight you might provide on this topic. And thanks very much for years of entertaining reading.
A – It turns out that there is no simple answer.. There are so many variables that some of the previous “wisdom” on this topic is now being questioned. What we do know is that humans do not have much to do with the setting of fares. There are numerous computer programs using algorithms that instantly react to what a competitor has posted with most sales fares appearing by 10:00 am. on Monday. Many of the pros say that the 2:00 pm. Tuesday loading of new fares (there are millions each day and they are loaded four times in a 24-hour cycle) will present a limited number of “sale matching” fares for purchase by 2:30 pm. on Tuesday. The best window for purchasing tickets at the lowest fare seems to be between 2:30 pm. on Tuesday through 12:00 noon on Wednesday. But that seems to apply specifically to domestic fares. For international fares the best strategy seems to be to concentrate on day of departure. June generally sees the highest fares of the year while September/October has some of the lowest. Thursday and Friday are said to be the days with the best pricing for departures to Europe. Sunday is a day to be avoided in terms of both travel and pricing. But none of this is scientific, really scientific, and note there are likely more than 3 million exceptions to these “rules”.
The best advice is to try to take an average of the fares you find and then, when you see something close to the bottom range on the actual site of the airline you will be flying, book it immediately. In that way you will avoid fees and have the security of having an actual, valid ticket issued directly by the airline. We do not recommend booking your air on a web site call center operated by a so-called “Online Travel Agency”.