For years, we’ve heard it bandied about that Tuesdays are the best day of the week to buy airline tickets, and if you buy on a Tuesday you can consistently save money. This has been repeated so often that many industry pundits regard it as settled law.
Some even go so far as to ascribe a specific time, for instance that you should always buy your tickets on Tuesday at 3pm.
In 2012 we looked at this in detail, analyzing millions of airfares and found that, while the day you choose to fly on can make a huge difference in your ticket price, the day you choose to buy on really does not. No one day of the week was consistently better than any other.
That’s why we were extremely skeptical when a new study came out this week which claimed the prime day to buy airline tickets has changed and that Tuesdays aren’t the best time to buy anymore. Now you should buy all your flights on Sundays!
This conclusion was based on a study of the Airlines Reporting Corporation of tickets purchased over a 19 month period ending in July.
Here’s the problem with the study: It was based on tickets purchased. Corporate travelers, who tend to book at the last minute and pay higher fares including a lot of business and first class travel, tend not to buy on Sundays. So, of course, tickets purchased on Sundays average out to being less expensive. But that doesn’t mean that, for someone searching for a bargain, the fares offered on Sundays are any cheaper than tickets bought any other day of the week.
To be sure, last night we ran a bunch of numbers and looked at over 415,000,000 (that’s 415 million!) fares that were available on domestic flights since the beginning of the year. We looked at fares that were available each day, regardless of what was actually purchased. And we found the notion that there is a best day of the week to buy continues to be a myth.
As you can see below, Wednesdays and Thursdays have been the cheapest day to buy, but only $3 less on average than the most expensive days, Saturday and Sunday.
In other words, they’re all about the same.
Of course, this is not to say that when you choose to buy your ticket doesn’t matter. It matters greatly. Fares change all the time and, indeed, you might see big differences from one day of the week to the next. But with respect to day of purchase, there is simply no pattern to it. On your particular trip, Saturday is as likely to be the best day to buy as Wednesday. What is really important, is not the day of the week that you buy on, but how far in advance you buy . Keep your focus here. This is where you can really make a big impact.