“How can I get cheap flights?”
As a traveler and travel writer, people ask me that question all the time.
My answer? “It depends.”
Thanks to airlines’ ever-changing pricing strategies, figuring out how to get cheap flights is tough.
But new research shared by The Wall Street Journal provides some fantastic insights. One key variable? When you book your ticket.
Based on the report, the WSJ shares several smart tips for timing your ticket purchase. Since the article is behind a paywall, we’ve shared some of the most important findings below.
Keep reading to learn the exact day to book to get cheap flights…
When to Find the Cheapest Tickets
Many variables play a role in a ticket’s price, but as the WSJ reports, a few timing tricks can help you find cheaper flights.
Don’t Book on a Friday
Travel experts used to recommend buying tickets on a Tuesday, when discounted fares were released, but that’s no longer true.
Now, Sundays are the cheapest day to buy tickets, followed by Saturdays. The rest of the days are fairly similar, but Friday is a glaring exception.
“Average prices for tickets bought on Friday are 13% higher than on Sunday,” the WSJ reports.
Though it says that’s “largely a function of higher-priced business travel bookings not being made over the weekend,” the research shows leisure tickets purchased over the weekend are still cheaper.
So whatever you do, avoid buying tickets on Friday!
Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
Last-minute discounts are a thing of the past.
Here’s how far ahead the WSJ says you should book tickets for travel from North America to the following destinations:
- Domestic: 57 days
- Caribbean: 77 days
- South America: 90 days
- Middle East/Africa: 144 days
- Asia/Pacific: 160 days
- Europe: 176 days
Stay on Top of Fares
Airlines adjust fares more frequently than ever.
“When you see a good price, grab it,” suggests the WSJ.
To help you keep track of the varying fares, I recommend following airlines and airline aggregators on social media. You can also sign up for newsletters from sites like Mighty Travels and Deals We Like.
Or, if there’s a particular route you’re planning to fly, I love using these tools:
- Airfare Watchdog: This site sends you email updates about routes, or for deals from your home airport.
- Hopper: This new smartphone app tells you whether fares on a certain route are likely to increase or decrease, and alerts you when especially good prices pop up.
So, my response to the initial question about how to find cheap flights?
I’d still say, “It depends.”
But, as a rule of thumb, the new data reported by the WSJ says to book early, not on a Friday — and use digital tools to help you get the best prices.
If you’re a paying subscriber of The Wall Street Journal and want to read the full article, click here.
Your Turn: When’s your next trip? Have you booked your flights yet?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.