For many years, travel “experts” have uniformly reported that Tuesday was the best day for purchasing air tickets, resulting in the lowest possible price for those ducats. All sorts of seemingly rational explanations were given for this conclusion, and various procedures and practices of the airlines were cited in favor of that “truth.”
To the amazement of most observers, the prestigious Airline Reporting Corporation – the ARC to which travel agents report their airlines sales – has suddenly upended the previous wisdom. In an announcement supported by a statistical study of the prices of tens of millions of air tickets, the ARC has now stated that the cheapest fares are generally found on purchases taking place on Sundays, with Saturdays the second cheapest day for purchasing airfares.
Moreover, with respect to international air tickets, the ARC has announced that purchasers who have bought them a full five months in advance of departure, generally enjoy the lowest airfares. A conclusion that would seem to me to defy logic – why should airlines begin discounting their international airfares a full five months in advance of departure, rather than later? – the ARC has shifted a previously held declaration that all observers found to be irrefutable.
So for whatever it’s worth, you now have the latest wisdom. Specifically, as reported in detail by my own website – the following is now the accepted wisdom, as found in the ARC’s study:
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“Statistically, the lowest tickets for domestic travel were purchased 57 days in advance of travel. Those travelers who purchased then tended to pay a fare 19 percent lower than the average ticket price on that route. That being said, pricing remained relatively flat 50 to 100 days before a trip. Those who booked 49 days or fewer before departure paid significantly more, with ticket prices rising each week closer to the travel date. A good 24 percent of ticket buyers purchase their ticket the week of travel and these folks paid the most.
“Domestic prices fluctuated by day of the week of purchase, as well, with Sundays being, statistically, the cheapest day to buy. When the traveler purchased his domestic ticket on a Sunday, and between 50 and 100 days before departure, he saved $100 off the average ticket price. If he purchased the ticket less than 50 days before departure, but still did so on a Sunday, he saved $50 of that average price.
“Saturday is the second least expensive day to purchase, and Tuesday is the cheapest weekday on which to purchase an airfare. Avoid Mondays and Fridays as those are the days on which ticket prices peak.
“For international itineraries, the lowest average rate is found 171 days before departure, with purchasers saying a whopping 27 percent less than the average ticket price.”
Arthur Frommer is the founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. Find more destinations and read his blog at frommers.com.