by Mark Albert
Like baseball players, travelers can be awfully superstitious about specifically when they buy their trips for the best deal: Tuesday at 3:20p; Sunday at 10p; Thursday at 10a. So when is the best day to book airfare?
Expedia’s New Heights for Air Travel report
Expedia published a fascinating 2016 year-end study on this and here’s what it concluded:
- Travel prices declined for the third year in a row—the lowest since 2013, in fact—and there were more seats in the air (about 5% more globally), which meant, according to Expedia, “travelers today have an overwhelming number of options to more destinations for lower prices than at any point in the recent past.”
- Prices were lowest on Sundays and highest by Fridays—driven “largely by business travelers,” the study found, “who make most of their big-ticket purchases at the end of every week.” The differences can be as great as 50%, especially for travel into the United States from abroad.
Chart plotting fare data from Expedia 2016 report on cheapest days to buy travel
- Booking flights for economy travel within the United States was cheaper on Sundays—by 11% on average. The Sunday savings were even greater when booking that day for flights from the US to Europe, often 16% lower than other days of the week.
Expedia’s Average Fares by Day of Week when departing from the US for economy round-trip tickets
- Traveling within Europe during your stay? Still book the intra-EU travel on Sundays for up to 30% savings in economy versus booking on other days of the week. Travelers can save even more—38%—when booking on Sundays for travel within Asia.
- “In most parts of the world,” including a Saturday night stay will “generally” lead to a lower price. It’s the first time, Expedia says, that it has confirmed this long-held rumor. This does not hold, however, for China and North Asia, where you’ll, on average, pay more with a Saturday night stay.
- Book more than three weeks (21 days) in advance. It can save you as much as 30%. “Savings like that are hard to ignore,” Expedia helpfully points out.
- In 2016, prices for traveling within a region generally dropped, with Africa seeing the biggest decline, an 11% drop for round-trip tickets and a 14% decrease for one-way flights. Only the Middle East saw higher prices, increasing by 3% for round-trip travel and 5% for one-ways.
- The best month to buy travel from North America to Europe was September; to South East Asia was in January; and to Australia was February.