20 days ago

Spread Your Wings, Nav.igators—These Are the Cheapest Days to Fly

If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know that just being in the airport is hassle enough. Waiting in line to check a bag, going through security, and herding in front of the gate like a bunch of cows isn’t exactly the best part about taking a trip. 

Then you remember how much you spent on the flight to get to your destination, and it nearly ruins the entire vacation.

You could sulk about it, or you could actively find ways to save on your flight. Here’s how.

The cheapest day to fly is Wednesday.

Whether you’re escaping for a long weekend or heading out for weeks overseas, there seems to be one universal understanding when it comes to flights: leave on a Wednesday.

CheapAir reports that mid-week flights are the least expensive, with Wednesdays clocking in at nearly $60 less than Sunday ones. This goes for returning flights, too.

But not everyone has the luxury of taking time off of work to fly on a Wednesday, so if you can’t, consider your other, almost-as-cheap options. According to CheapAir, traveling on Tuesdays and Thursdays will save you almost $50.

Cheap flights depend on the time of year.

Sometimes flights just aren’t going to be cheap. Most of the time, summer travel will be pricey.

Investopedia suggests avoiding travel for most of the summer. But if this is your only time to get away, shoot for very early summer. As in, still May. Flights during the first two weeks of the month are 20 percent cheaper than those between Memorial and Labor Day.

There are also exceptions during the holiday season. Wednesdays are typically the cheapest day to fly, but the day before Thanksgiving is going to be packed and pricey. In general, Thanksgiving travel from Tuesday through Sunday is the most expensive. 

Try to leave with enough days for padding that you won’t be stuck in crowded airports or end up paying an entire week’s paycheck for the flight.

Non-holiday travel is actually dirt-cheap.

Flying during the holidays will always be expensive, but it all depends on where you go. Domestic travel will probably cost you more if you hit up snow-hater escapes like Florida and Hawaii, or snow-lover resorts in the mountains. But heading to non-touristy areas might offer better rates. 

For example, Europe in the winter is a great time to jump on cheap flights. Post-holiday flying (January through March) usually offers discounted rates because not a lot of people are traveling there during the winter. 

Sure, the cold might turn others away, but it’s a dream if you’re trying to avoid the hordes of tourists you’ll encounter during the warm season. Just pack layers.

Swipe to stay on top of dropping prices.

If you’ve got a destination in mind, sign up for alerts from your favorite flight apps or websites, like:

  • Hopper: This app will tell you when prices for your destination have dropped. You’ll also get alerts on the best time to buy and when to avoid getting tickets.
  • Airfarewatchdog: This site compares dozens of other flight sites, so you can get the cheapest flight without price-checking every place yourself.
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights: If you’re serious about optimizing your travel deals, this service is worth the $39 a year. You’ll get alerts for every deal available on international flights, including mistakenly discounted fares (which means you’re paying a fraction of the cost!).

Yes, you need a backup plan.

Not everyone can squeeze in leaving on a Wednesday to save a decent chunk of change. Whether it’s work or family obligations, sometimes you need to leave later in the week.

If that’s your sitch, Saturdays are still doable, especially for return flights. Many people want to optimize their time away and try to come back Sunday evenings, but traveling on a Saturday morning will save you a few extra dollars (the earlier the better), and you’ll give yourself a built-in recovery day.