Travel plans can quickly overshoot the budget, making “budget vacations” extremely desirable. But such plans are not possible if you pay too much for airfare. And, finding cheap flights can be a huge hassle unless you know where to look. Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the travel website JoeSentMe.com says, “For the airlines, it’s about getting you to pay the most you’re willing to pay, which is the opposite of what the consumer wants.” On a single flight, there can be more than a dozen pricing categories.
Moreover, each of those passengers may be paying for a different array of a la carte add-ons such as baggage fees or priority boarding. The main thing to know about airline prices is that the fare is not where you finish but where you start.
Here are three secret ways to booking cheap flights:
Book Seven Weeks in Advance
According to data from the Airlines Reporting Corporation, passengers pay the lowest price – nearly 10% below the average fare – if they buy 50 days before their flight. The data were compiled by examining 2017 ticket sales from U.S. corporate and online travel agencies for the top 500 origin-and-destination markets. But the seven-week rule isn’t a sure shot strategy for bagging the cheapest deal. Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of data science and research explains “This is just a trend. Airlines will make valuable deals available all the time. But, on average, we see this [50-day] approach works.”
Cheapest Days for Flights: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday
The cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for domestic travel, according to a FareCompare.com study. According to the website, “Flying on these days of the week is almost always the cheapest option in the U.S.” FareCompare says, for international travel, weekdays are usually cheaper than weekends. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive days for domestic travel.
Best Time to Book Flights: Tuesdays at 3 p.m. EST
If you are not able to find the discounts you’re looking for in the early morning, a study by FareCompare.com says the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for travel (domestically) is on Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST. But, George Hobica, travel expert and journalist, argues that the best deals vary frequently, so there’s not one specific day or time of the week to buy.