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Best Days and Time to Fly Cheap. Tips on Domestic & International Flights

Best Days and Time to Fly Cheap. Tips on Domestic & International Flights

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
10 minutes read
Last Updated: July 19, 2024

Did you know that according to Hopper, booking mid-week flights, typically on a Wednesday, can save travellers up to 17%? On domestic flights, this can save an average of $56 per ticket.

To save this amount (or more), you’ll need to pay attention to a flight’s time of day, day of the week, season, events and holidays, and other factors that we’ll delve into. This also changes whether you’re flying internationally or domestically.

Travelling has changed pretty drastically in recent years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel decreased exponentially, resulting in staffing shortages. Add that to higher fuel prices, which are only just starting to return to pre-pandemic prices, according to IATA. Plus, demand is increasing in 2023 as people feel more comfortable exploring. All this is contributing to why flights are so expensive right now.

There’s no time like the present to learn all about the best days and times to fly to save as much money as possible. That way, you’ll have a bigger travel budget to spend at your destination.

Best time of day to fly

Best Time of Day to Fly

To get the cheapest flight possible, you probably won’t get to fly at your preferred time of day. Simply put, the best time of day to fly is when no one else wants to. This means leaving early morning and late at night.

Optimal Flight Departure Times:
4 am to 6 am and 10 pm to midnight

The bright spot to getting up early or arriving late at your destination is that these flight times, like ones at 6 am or earlier or the redeye, tend to be less crowded, resulting in a more comfortable and less stressful trip. The busiest times to fly are mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Flight Departure Times to Avoid:
9 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 4 pm

You can put as much thought as you want into the time of day to fly, but flights get interrupted all the time, so you might experience a delayed or cancelled flight anyway. When you do, we’re here to help you claim your rights to compensation of up to €600 (£520).

best days to fly

Best Day of the Week to Fly Domestic

While it’s important to note that the best day of the week to fly varies based on the route, typically, the best days of the week to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The general rule is that mid-week flights will be cheaper and quieter.

Best days of the week to fly are: Tuesdays and Wednesdays

For domestic flights, Wednesday is the ideal day to fly to your destination, according to Hopper. Alternatively, the best day to fly home is a Tuesday. Selecting these days can save you an average of $85 per ticket. Sunday is the most expensive day to fly, so avoid it if you can.

Best Seasons to Fly

As a general rule, summer is the most popular time to fly as people take more time off work and the kids are off school. As you can imagine, this higher demand increases prices. This same increased demand applies to other popular travel times as well.

The general rule is to plan your vacation by avoiding summer travel. You also need to take major holidays, spring break, and large-scale events, like sports tournaments, conventions, and festivals, into account. Unless you’re attending one of the events, it’s best to avoid them.

Holidays are one of the busiest times to fly period. Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and any other holiday that offers people more time off work and encourages travelling to visit family is going to jack up flight prices. If you don’t need to travel, stay home and save your money.

The busiest day to travel in the US is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In 2019, the TSA reported its busiest passenger screening day in history on this post-Thanksgiving Sunday. And trust us, the days just before and after Christmas and after New Year’s aren’t much better.

Your best bet is to focus on the shoulder season or off-season when considering the best time to fly international or domestic. Avoiding the peak season of May to September in places like the US and the UK is ideal.

Best Time to Fly Cheat Sheet

Here is a summary to guide you through booking your next flight:

Best & Worst Days and Times to Fly: Summary

 BEST

❌ WORST

Tuesday and Wednesday

Monday, Friday, and Sunday

Early morning and late night

Late afternoon and mid-morning

Off-season and shoulder season

Holidays, spring break, the summer, and large-scale events

Best Day to Fly International

The rule for domestic flights applies to the best day to fly internationally with a slight twist. It’s still the cheapest to fly out on a Wednesday, and unlike domestic flights, Wednesday is ideal to return. Booking weekly like this can save you up to $120 on average per person, according to Hopper.

Booking weekly like this can save you up to $120 on average per person

As with many things, there is an exception to the best day to fly internationally, and that’s when you’re booking vacation packages and charters. These companies often offer deals on Saturday to Saturday travel, so you don’t need to focus on Wednesday as much.

Aside from the best days to fly internationally, stick to early morning and late night flights to keep the costs down - the same as flying domestically.

Time Zone at the Destination

Especially when travelling longer distances, time zones can throw a wrench into your plans. While we’ve told you the best time of day to fly to save money is very early or late, deciding between the two is much easier when you consider your current time zone and the one at your destination.

Head online to any of the automatic time zone calculators while you’re looking at flight times to know what you’re getting into. It’s no fun to arrive at your destination excited and ready to start your vacation only to find out it’s 3 am. Everything is closed, it’s hard to get a taxi, and it’s just plain annoying.

As an example, the best time of day to fly from Europe to the East Coast of North America is generally in the early evening. Flying from London Heathrow to New York’s JFK Airport in the early evening, around 6 pm, will have you landing around 9 pm. You can clear immigration and get your bags and get to bed at a reasonable time. The vacation starts tomorrow!

The best time of day to fly to Europe, using the same example, is overnight or as early in the morning as possible. The flight time is about 7 hours, so if you do this, you’ll arrive in London with most of the day ahead of you. And if you can sleep on the plane - even better.

Traveller napping due to jet lag

Individual Biorhythms

Another factor to consider when deciding on the best time to fly is your internal clock. Jet lag is no joke and can ruin the first few days of your trip when flying internationally.

If you can sleep on a plane, you’re already in a good position. Travelling from New York to London on the redeye is perfect. You’ll get most of a night’s sleep and wake up in a new place. If you’re not so lucky and arrive in London in the morning and haven’t slept, the best thing you can do to combat jet lag is to stay up as late as you can.

Fill your day in London with activities to keep you awake, and if you can wait until at least 9 pm to fall asleep, you’ll do a lot to help reset your internal clock.

The bottom line: when choosing the best time of day to fly, aside from keeping costs low, think about the destination time zone and your individual biorhythms.

Non-stop vs. Connecting Flights

When it comes to getting the best price for your flight, look at both non-stop and connecting flights. Layovers can be annoying, but switching planes once or twice can add up to significant savings.

While it takes a little more work, consider booking two separate tickets to get to your destination, especially when going to and from Europe. As an example, Hopper found that for a flight from New York to Lisbon, booking separate flights can save around $450. The initial direct fare for the route was $1000 from TAP Portugal. Booking a direct Norwegian Airlines flight from New York to Oslo instead was $330. Add that to a $214 fare from Norway to Lisbon via Lufthansa, and your total with only one change is just $544!

Booking separate flights can save around $450

The downside to this is that you have to go through security twice and pick up your bags twice, but with this amount of money left in your bank account, a little hassle is easily overlooked. Do your research and think a little outside the box, and it might just pay off.

When to Fly with Children

The best time to fly with children depends mostly on their age. It’s recommended to avoid the busiest travel days and times to keep stress levels low, especially if you’re travelling with young kids or infants.

At their core, babies can be unpredictable. You know your baby best, so aim to fly within their comfort zone and stick to their normal routine as much as possible. Ideally, you want your baby to either be asleep on the flight or in a good mood. Pick flights that coincide with their usual bedtime or morning flights if that’s when your baby is well-rested and happy. Crying will happen for most parents, but trying to limit it will suit you and the other passengers nicely.

The sale rule applies to older children. Are they cranky in the morning? Go with a later flight. Can they sleep on planes? If so, a later or overnight flight may be best.

Best time of day to fly with a baby

Things to Avoid

Here are the top 4 things to avoid when planning your next flight:

  • Booking too late. Last-minute bookings aren’t the deals they once were, so it’s better to plan ahead and book anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months from your departure date.
  • Major holidays both at home and at your destination. These are the busiest times to fly, generally, so leave them to everyone else.
  • Turbulence if you’re a nervous flyer. Nighttime and morning flights are usually less turbulent due to fewer winds. Avoid seats at the back of the plane as they feel more turbulence.
  • Weekend travel days unless it’s part of a vacation package.

Tips on Finding the Best (and Cheapest) Flight

Now that you know the best days to fly and the best times to fly, how do you find the best deals? Your best option is to go with a comparison site that scrubs all the flights available to present you with every eventuality.

Google Flights is great for a quick search to get an idea of costs and availability, whereas a site like Skyscanner has more filter options to find the cheapest ticket. You can look at entire months at a time in an easy-to-read calendar and play around with it. Also, make sure you select the city and not individual airports to get the most options, and use their price alert function to get notified when prices change.

Skyscanner filter options to find the cheapest ticket

Don’t forget to have a look for flight deals during well-known discount days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day as well.

According to Skyscanner themselves, who are in the business of sorting through flight prices, Black Friday can offer better discounts on flights for certain routes versus regular sales. This is especially true for long-distance flights between the US and either Europe or Asia.

Like at the local mall, Black Friday prices can be fleeting, with only a few flights actually offered for the ultra-low advertised price. It doesn’t take long to have a look for flights on these days, so why not check? Be warned, if you find something cheap and suitable, book it right away.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for airline and travel company-specific sales, and you might find a great bargain.

Conclusion

Now you should have a plan of attack to book your next flight. The best time to fly is early morning or late night, the best day to fly is a Wednesday, and avoiding holidays and events will offer respite from crowds and high prices.

Remember that regardless of what type of interruption you run into on your next journey, we’re here to help you sort through it. From compensation for delayed flights to refunds for cancellations, you can count on us!

Claim with AirAdvisor and get up to €600 compensation. Find out how much you’re owed today.Check Your Flight

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Online Air 17.01.2022

Find the latest travel deals on flights, Visit our website to learn more about flying destinations ! Awsome blog! Your blog is very informative for everyone.

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