Not everyone has the disposable income to hop on a plane whenever they please. For most of us, flying is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.
When you buy your ticket can influence how much you’ll pay, but so will the days you plan on being in the air. Since some days are busier than others, you could face a higher price for convenience. Instead, find cheaper days to fly — here’s how.
Here are the cheapest days of the week to fly in 2021
Trying to get the best deal possible? So is everyone else, which is why a recent CheapAir.com study took a deep dive into the topic. The study analyzed 917 million airfares in more than 8,000 markets to find the cheapest days to fly — and what it discovered probably isn’t the best for your schedule.
The CheapAir.com study found that Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly, costing an average of $85 less than the most expensive day. Wednesday is also a great day to travel, according to the study.
These findings make sense, since midweek travel is pretty inconvenient for those with a traditional Monday through Friday job. If demand for these flights is lower, prices will follow suit.
Unsurprisingly, Sunday is the most expensive day to fly, according to the study. As the weekend winds down, people are heading home to start a new week — therefore, demand (and prices) rise.
Cheapest times to fly by season
The day of the week isn’t the only thing that affects ticket prices. Seasonal traveling can make or break your budget for flying. Flying in the wintertime, for example, is much more expensive than the fall or spring, according to the CheapAir study.
- Winter: It costs an average of $433 a ticket for domestic flights during winter. To avoid the most expensive airfare, skip out on traveling during the week of Christmas or to popular ski spots.
- Spring: Colleges and families have Spring Break, which means they may be looking to get out of town for a bit. If you’re in the peak of the season, try to avoid weekend travel to keep costs low. You can expect average domestic tickets to cost $354.
- Summer: Mid-June to mid-August is when the bulk of summer traveling takes place, costing an average of $365. If you can fly later on in the summer, you can expect lower fares.
- Fall: Autumn is a great time to travel, with fares costing an average of $342. With children and young adults in school, you can expect to see some great fares in September up until Thanksgiving.
How to find cheap flights
Unless you’re locked into scrolling through several airline sites all day, every day, you’re going to need a little help securing cheap flights. Luckily, there are a few places that do that.
1. Google Flights
If you already get your email, photos, and documents through Google, why not add a flight tracker?
Google Flights is an online flight search that allows you to browse many different airlines in one place. You can even use your budget to determine the most cost-effective flights for you and get emails when a flight drops to a set price you’re willing to pay.
This mobile app lets you plug in your desired flight days and times, then tells you if now is a good time to buy. If not, you can set up alerts for the flight, and Hopper will send push notifications when prices drop.
Many times, it will also let you know if it predicts a further drop in price, which can help you score cheap flights. Hopper even includes alternative ways to lower your fare, including flexible days to fly.
According to the company, Hopper has a 95% accuracy rate, up to one year out from the desired flight.
Kayak is a flight aggregator that works similarly to Hopper and Google Flights. It will compare all available flights for the dates and times you selected. It also sets up alerts for you in case you’d like to come back later.
Kayak doesn’t make price predictions like Hopper, which means you won’t know if you’re buying at the cheapest rate. You’ll have to do that research yourself.
4. Get spontaneous with your flight
If you’re hoping to find a great deal on a flight, your best strategy might be to not have a strategy at all.
Being spontaneous could land you a great deal when you use services like Scott’s Cheap Flights. SCF uses human flight experts and technology to find great deals, especially ones with mistake fares. The site launched after Scott Keyes, founder and CEO, booked a $130 round-trip flight from New York City to Milan, and he started an email list to let others know of similar killer deals.
5. Be flexible with your airport
If you’re near a few different airports, it helps to compare flights from all of them.
The FinanceBuzz Airport Costs study analyzed what it costs to fly from 45 of the busiest airports in the country, and prices can vary widely in just one metro area. If you have the flexibility to change airports to save some money, you may want to consider doing so.
How to make the most of your flights
Even if you have to pay more for a flight than you’d like, that airfare can earn money for you. You might be able to score cash back, rack up rewards, or even fly for free — if you have the right tools in place.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: You can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus get up to 5X points per dollar spent and shop abroad with no foreign transaction fees. However, there’s a $95 annual fee.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Like its sibling, the Sapphire Reserve offers a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn up to 10x points per dollar, plus you get a $300 annual travel credit. That valuable credit helps offset the high annual fee of $550.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10x points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first 6 months). The annual fee is a hefty $695 (See rates and fees), but the card offers tons of perks that could make up for it. This is a luxury travel card for those who travel frequently and want to do so in style.
Bottom line on cheap flights
There are plenty of ways to use your flight-buying experience to offset the cost of jet-setting. Use technology to your advantage, plan ahead, and use one of the best travel credit cards to make your purchase.