At the United Airlines media day executives at the carrier shared what a review of 365 days of ticket purchases on the United website showed about the cheapest days to buy travel and the cheapest days to travel.
- Customers booking on Saturdays and Sundays got lower fares, on average, than those booking on weekdays. It’s not that lower fares are offered on those days, though. It’s just that leisure passengers book on weekends while business travelers book during the week. Fewer expensive business fares are being booked on the weekend, so the average fares on those days are lower.
- The least expensive day to travel is Tuesday.
- The cheapest tickets are purchased between 6 a.m. and Noon. Fares are more likely to go up during the day than to go down, although the effect is very small.
This is interesting data but it doesn’t actually tell you when to book tickets to get the cheapest fares. As a general matter you want to:
- Know how much tickets usually cost on your route. That way you know when prices are higher or lower than normal. If they’re lower, consider buying. If they’re higher, and if there’s plenty of time before the trip and not an obvious event driving up demand, it can be advisable to wait.
- Not buy before your plans are firm. Because change fees can eat up any savings.
- Don’t buy too far in advance. Often lowest discount inventory isn’t loaded for flights a year in advance when schedules load. The only time to book super early is for peak holiday travel days where flights do sell out and what limited inexpensive inventory might be available goes early.
- Usually consider buying around 3 months out. There are last minute deals but not predictable enough to bank on, within 90 days airline schedules are firm and discount fares are loaded. One counterargument for booking further than 90 days out is the likelihood of a schedule change that could get you a fee-free cancellation or change if you want it.