Source: Corbis Images
It seems like there are endless theories on the best day to book flights. Here are some of the most popular ones I've culled from experts, regular people, and studies.
1. Buy flights on Tuesday 3 p.m. EDT
I'm sure you've heard this common piece of advice — the best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday at 3 p.m. EDT. That's because airlines tend to kick off their sales on Monday, and other airlines jump in to stay competitive — resulting in a price match and discounted tickets by Tuesday 3 p.m. EDT.
Verdict: This theory has been around for a while now, and there are differing opinions about this. This specific time on a Tuesday was advised by Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare, who has studied flight fluctuations for years. However, this advice is a few years old, so it's uncertain whether it still applies today.
2. Buy flights at Wednesday 1 a.m.
Another popular theory is to buy your flights at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. And depending on your airline, it should be an hour after midnight in the area that the airline is based in. The reason is that a lot of low airfares are seen on Sunday and Monday nights, and if they are not all bought up, they return to the market on Wednesday. But this trick has a catch: you can't book the tickets online, and you'll have to call in to get the deals.
Verdict: It may or may not be true. This new tip appeared this year and seems to originate from Peter Greenberg, the CBS travel news editor. I've personally never tried it and haven't seen a lot of experts reference this tip. I'm also not quite sure how calling in vs. booking online will work. I'm wondering if the prices quoted to you over the phone will be different than the ones you spot online.
3. Buy flights on weekends
The Tuesday and Wednesday theories were debunked in a study by the Texas A&M University that found that discounted air tickets are released on weekends to target leisure travelers who are likely to buy tickets based on the price rather than convenience. The authors of the study concluded that leisure travelers tend to book their trips on weekends, and airlines are aware of this trend, so they try to lower the prices to sweeten the deals. The rates were apparently five percent cheaper than those bought on weekdays.
Verdict: It certain has some validity given that this finding came from a study.
4. There is no "best" day to buy a flight
We've heard it all, but the most recent claim seems to be that there really isn't a best day to book a flight. Instead of a specific day of the week, the folks at CheapAir (who crunched the data of more than four million flights in 2013) say that a better rule of thumb is to book a certain amount of days in advance. They advise to buy domestic tickets 54 days or anywhere between one to three and a half months in advance. International flights require more advance booking for better prices. Check out this list for more details.
Verdict: This is a recent finding, and it does make sense to book your ticket ahead of time, which makes it seem less gimmicky.
The Conclusion . . .
Source: Warner Bros.
There are so many different theories out there on the best day to book flights, so it's best to take them all with a grain of salt. Some of these theories may be true in certain situations, but we have to keep in mind that businesses change their strategies all the time. Be vigilant, and keep checking the prices on flights early on. And don't forget to set flight-price-change alerts with trackers like Yapta or Kayak.