Affordable Travel Guide to Time Changes Everything

When you buy or fly can affect the price you pay

Time Changes Everything

Depending upon your choice of seating (economy versus business or first class), the day of the week or time of day that you fly bears some weight on what you pay as airfare. Even the day and time you book your flight affects how much (or how little) you pay. A great deal of statistical research has been done using airlines database information, and certain trends and habits of airline ticket sales are known.

Airlines that discount seats often have to fly outside peak travel times in order to save on airport landing fees, passing the saving on to passengers. In accordance with that, they schedule their departure and arrival times (based, of course, on anticipated flight times between destination points) to coincide with reduced airport landing fee times.

Relative to this, the lowest price tickets are on “red eyes”, flights that depart in the middle of the night. This is far more typical of eastbound flights, such as Toronto to London or Los Angeles to New York. Next cheapest are the very first flights allowed out of the airport in the morning, which is generally, in urban-zoned airports, 6:00 a.m. Other lower fares can be had immediately after lunchtime and during the dinner hour.

Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive days to fly, understandable given that people would leave on a Friday and return on a Sunday for a weekend away. Wednesdays have proven to be the cheapest flight days for domestic travel, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays. A Monday to Thursday round trip is also a good travel time for discount airfares.

Unless you have a family gathering you must attend, avoid obvious peak travel periods such as before and after American Thanksgiving, and around Christmas. However, traveling on Christmas Day or on New Year’s Eve, when most people have already arrived at their destinations, can result in great airfare discounts. And traveling in the autumn can net some great seat sales and airfare savings.

Even the purchasing of airline tickets has its best times. The industry wisdom says at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern) on a Tuesday is the best time to find a discount airfare deal. Tuesdays offer up the week’s cheap travel fares, but be aware that these are pulled just before the weekend, so if you are booking from Thursday afternoon onward, you’re probably paying more.

When booking airline tickets and taking flights, discounts are a matter of day and time. Mark that in your appointment calendar!

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