There is no best day to buy a plane ticket

It’s a myth that the best day to buy a plane ticket is on Tuesday. How far in advance you buy is more important.

When it comes to finding the best price for a flight, it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to crack an impossible puzzle. Some people try to improve their odds by choosing what they believe to be the best day of the week for buying tickets — Tuesday, according to many.

Katherine emailed the VERIFY team to ask “What’s the best day to buy a plane ticket?”

THE QUESTION

Is there a certain day of the week when plane tickets are at their cheapest?

THE SOURCES

  • Scott’s Cheap Flights, a service that alerts customers to cheap ticket sales

  • Cheapair.com, an online travel agency

  • Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge Travel Assistance and a former airline price analyst

THE ANSWER

Well, there is not a certain day of the week when plane tickets are at their cheapest.

WHAT WE FOUND

Airlines don’t pick a particular day of the week to make their prices the cheapest. Plane ticket prices fluctuate constantly, and there’s no way to know ahead of time when a flight will drop to its lowest price.

“There is no magic day on which prices suddenly drop,” says Scott’s Cheap Flights, a service that alerts customers to airfare sales. “Price can drop at any time, which means the cheapest day to buy flights is the day you find a great flight deal.”

A study conducted by online travel agency cheapair.com found that the average price of a plane ticket on each of the seven days of the week varied by no more than $2. That’s equivalent to 0.6% of the average ticket price. The day of the week a flight departs has a greater effect on ticket prices, the study found. Flights that depart on Tuesday and Wednesday are, on average, $73 cheaper than Sunday flights.

Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge Travel Assistance and a former airline price analyst, believes that the myth that some days are cheaper than others for buying tickets originated in part because people mix up “cheapest day to fly” and “cheapest day to buy.” He said the other reason for the myth has to do with the history of online ticket sales.

Snyder said that during the early days of the internet, airlines would often post their fares, depending on the time zone, on Tuesday nights or on Wednesdays.

“That’s when you would see these special deals come out back then,” Snyder said. “This hasn’t existed for years. I couldn’t tell you the last time when those actually were out there in the market.”

Scott’s Cheap Flights has also referenced this myth on its website. “When we hear travelers and ‘experts’ repeating the long-held myth that the cheapest day to buy flights is on a Tuesday at 3 am, we can’t help but chuckle,” he said.

But there are some things you can do to get a better deal, including planning your trip well in advance.

Scott’s Cheap Flights says that’s generally two to eight months out. Cheapair.com found in its study the “prime booking window” when domestic airfares are on average their cheapest three weeks to three and a half months in advance. The study also found fares tend to be high six to 11 months out from a flight, and are at a modest premium about three and a half to six months out. Prices vary dramatically but begin to rise two to three weeks out, and are at their highest the last two weeks before a flight.

Ultimately, what day of the week you buy your plane ticket doesn’t matter. Choosing to buy them on a Tuesday won’t improve your odds of a good deal. All you can do is monitor the price over time, and consider making a purchase a couple of months out.

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