If you’re one of the avid travelers who swears by scoring great deals by buying on Tuesdays, be prepared to change your ways.
New research shows that Sunday has now been touted as the best day to buy an airline ticket, travel writer Scott McCartney wrote in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
The revelation was discovered by a deep dive into a 19-month period of ticketing sales from Airlines Reporting Corp., a ticket-processing company that handles about half of all tickets sold. The firm found that domestic and international round-trip tickets showed that the lowest average price was on Sunday. A similar study by Texas A&M confirmed the results, and people can save about $60 by making the purchase over the weekend.
Prices continue to rise because of an increasing demand for a limited number of seats. Social media has also contributed to the shift of cheap days, as it’s able to lure customers in with last-minute deals at any time, converting leisure shoppers browsing the Web into ticketed passengers.
But, don’t give up on Tuesdays, altogether. It’s the busiest day for ticket sales and the cheapest day of the workweek to buy. About 21 percent of price drops happen on Tuesday and about 19 percent happen on Wednesday, according to Yapta Inc., a firm that alerts travelers and travel managers when ticket prices decline.
The day and time of day you actually fly is important, too. Tuesday is the best day to fly for less, as fewer people travel on that day, and no one wants to fly at 4 a.m., so if you’re a night owl, you can shave money off your ticket.
As you may have noticed by your inbox, carriers still send out sales and emails on Tuesdays, but most stay open through the weekend to accommodate leisure shoppers. Waiting until 1 a.m. on Wednesday to snag leftover deals from Tuesday may also be beneficial, according to CBS News. For more dedicated money-savers, calling the airline or talking to a ticket agent in person could also save you a significant amount of money.
A study by the ARC found that the cheapest time to book a domestic trip is 57 days before departure, although most people don’t buy that early—with an average purchase date just over a month before they flew, when prices had already started to climb.
International fares didn’t fluctuate much between 10 months and three months before departure. Once the three-month advance purchase was up, airlines began raising prices. Most people waited too long to get the lowest price on international trips, with most passengers purchasing the flight a mere two months before departure.
The average consumer takes a good deal of time choosing which flight to buy, spending an average of 12 days shopping for airline tickets before they buy, according to Hopper, a Cambridge, Mass. Firm that analyzes prices and flight searches in large reservation systems found.
Consumers often watch prices go up and down, hoping they’ll stay low. But, fare increases are much more common, rising an average of 5 percent in a 12-day period. Leisure markets, like Florida and Hawaii, tend to have fares stable fares, but business-oriented destinations like Chicago and Washington, D.C. tend to have more price volatility, the firm found.
Uncertain fare-watchers should take advantage of the 24-hour ticketing cancellation policy that the Department of Transportation imposed on airlines. Booking sites don’t feature this rule prominently on their fare rules, but it applies to every ticket booked on Delta, United, US Airways and JetBlue. American lets you hold a reservation for 24 hours without paying, instead.
People may not realize that they have to plan more in advance to get the best deal because just two years ago, that wasn’t the case. In 2012, domestic tickets were their cheapest at 42 days in advance, but in years past, airlines have consolidated and cut capacity, creating more demand for each seat.
And if you haven’t booked your holiday ticket yet, you’re probably out of luck. The cheapest day to buy for Thanksgiving was Oct. 10, and the cheapest day to buy for Christmas was even earlier on Oct. 8, according to Orbitz. Christmas flights are 5 percent more expensive this year.
But, booking early rarely yields significant savings for holiday travel. Airlines know that they’ll fill the seats, so they start their prices out high and end even higher.
It’s just the way the travel industry works these days.