Travel News

The Best Day of the Week to Buy Cheap Tickets

WednesdayBelieve it or not, there really is a best day of the week to make your best deal on an airline ticket, and it’s neither Monday nor Friday. It’s Wednesday! And there’s even a best time on Wednesday to buy that ticket.

Why Wednesday? Thank the small, upstart airlines. In the airline business, fare wars are started by the weakest competitors, and the big guys tend to be the ones to raise fares. And all of that tends to happen on Fridays.

So how did Wednesday become the ideal day to strike a deal?

Let’s say Airline A decides to raise fares. It usually does so at a late hour on a Friday night. By Saturday, Airline A’s major competitors will probably match that fare increase.

Warning: Book your tickets over a weekend, and you might spend a whole lot more than you should.

But what if the major competitors don’t match the higher fares? Then the instigator of the fare increase drops its fares back down late on Sunday night or on Monday morning. If you already paid a higher fare, you still may be out of luck.

Why? Because although you might still qualify for a lower fare and a ticket exchange, that terrible $100 change fee could wipe out your savings!

Here’s another example. Let’s say upstart Airline B decides to begin a fare war. Again, it happens late on a Friday night. Usually, some (but not all) of the majors will match that fare on routes where they compete with Airline B.

Does that mean you should still book tickets over the weekend? Absolutely not.

Remember, I said some, but not all, of the majors will match that fare. By late Monday, depending on how that new fare is doing in the marketplace, Airline C might jump into the battle and offer an even lower fare, so look for all the other airlines to rush to match that one – usually by Tuesday – and the war is on. Prices might go even lower on Wednesday. And that’s when you strike.

Wait any longer than Wednesday, and you may be in trouble. The wars usually end by Thursday morning. Why? Friday is just around the corner! And the cycle starts all over again.

What’s the best time to buy your ticket on Wednesday? One hour after Tuesday midnight (1 a.m. Wednesday morning).

Why? At about midnight, the airlines usually reload their computers with the latest low-cost fares that were announced the previous day but will be canceled if they are not purchased within 24 hours.

Excerpt from Peter’s book, The Travel Detective: How to Get the Best Service and the Best Deals from Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Ships, and Car Rental Agencies.

Pick up the Travel Detective Bible from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or an independent retailer near you…

What do you think? Tell us what you’ve experienced in the brave new world of domestic airline tickets by commenting.