Best & Worst Days of the Week to Fly – The Cheapest Times to Travel in 2023
While there is no single best day to book flights, there are cheaper days and times to fly. That includes days of the week, certain times of day, months of the year, and holidays. In certain cases, flying a day later or earlier can save you hundreds of dollars!
This article will detail the best and worst days of the week to fly. It will also go over how to find cheap flight deals as well as the best places to book.
Before starting, consider signing up for free alerts or a membership with Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). This helpful service sends emails with heavily discounted flight deals, and I highly recommend it.
Table of Contents
What Are the Cheapest & Most Expensive Days of the Week to Fly?
Generally, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best weekdays to fly. Thursday is a bit more expensive but still reasonable. Saturday is usually the cheapest weekend day to fly. That does not mean you cannot find great flight prices on the other days of the week. It just means your odds of finding cheap airfare on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are higher than the rest of the week.
The reason those are the best days to fly is demand, and business travel is a big factor. Most business travel takes place on Monday and Friday. That frees up a lot of seats for travel during the middle of the week.
Those going on vacation tend to fly out on Thursday or Friday and return on a Sunday. Additionally, Sunday to Sunday trips are popular since they allow you to return on a weekend day before returning to school or work. Many travelers will also fly out on Friday and return Sunday of the following week to take advantage of two weekends.
The worst days to fly are Sunday, Monday, and Friday. Those days have the most demand causing flight prices to be more expensive.
What Are the Cheapest & Most Expensive Days of the Week to Fly Internationally?
Predicting international ticket prices is a little more difficult than domestic fares. The middle of the week is still usually the best time to fly international routes, but the odds of finding a cheap Sunday, Monday, or Friday fare are higher. View our guidelines as more of a rule for domestic flights than international flights.
You May Not Have a Choice on the Flight Day
Your airport and airline of choice may have limited routes to your destination. In some cases, there will only be one or two flights per week from your departure airport to your destination airport. If that happens, you either have to accept the days and ticket price or consider a different airline or airport.
I recently flew direct from LaGuardia Airport to Glacier Park International Airport. While it was great having a direct flight from the Northeast, the single route was only available on Saturdays. Instead of opting for a different airport with connecting flights and more days, I paid a little more and locked myself into the Saturday to Saturday flight. While Saturdays are usually a cheap day to fly, it was fairly expensive because it was the only day available.
What Are the Best & Worst Times of Day to Fly?
Certain times of the day are much cheaper than others to fly. Like with the best and worst days, demand controls flight pricing for the top times. Here are the times you want to book and the times you should avoid. You can also see our comprehensive guide on the best & worst times of day to fly.
Best Time of Day to Fly
The most expensive times of day to fly are the times that everyone wants to fly. That means the middle of the morning and late afternoon. No one wants to wake up at 3 am to catch a 6 am or 7 am flight. Everyone is searching for flights from 9 am to 11 am where you have time to sleep in a little. Unfortunately, You are better off flying during an undesirable time If you want a great deal on a flight.
The best times of day to fly are very early in the morning and very late at night such as a redeye flight. Since those times have many drawbacks, they are usually cheaper. If you are willing to give up a little sleep, you should consider booking those times if they are available.
Worst Time of Day to Fly
Everyone wants to get enough sleep before flying and no one wants to get home in the middle of the night. As previously detailed, mid-morning and late afternoons are usually the busiest times to fly. Since demand controls flight prices, the busiest times are also the most expensive times. If possible, opt for a very early morning flight or a redeye flight to get a better deal.
You May Not Have a Choice on the Flight Time
Depending on your departure and destination city, you may not even get to choose a flight time. Some airlines only fly to specific destinations once per day. Others may only fly the route once per week. In cases like that, you are at the mercy of the airline, and the time is already set for you.
In a situation like that, you should focus on finding the cheapest days to fly if the route is flown more than once per week. If a different day of the week is not cheaper, consider nearby airports where cheaper prices may be available.
What Are the Best & Worst Times of Year to Fly?
Certain times of the year are much more expensive than others. While you can pick the perfect day or time to fly, the flight price is still going to be very high. Here are times you should target and times you should avoid.
Best Times of Year to Fly
The key to finding the best time of the year to fly is not simply avoiding obvious bad times like the holidays. Here are some of the best times of the year to book affordable flights.
The shoulder season is the time between the peak and the offseason. That is the sweet spot on when you should travel to a particular destination. For summer travel, book your trip towards the end of May to the early to middle parts of June. Many schools are in session during that timeframe, and it is still warm enough to enjoy the beach and other summer activities. You can also travel towards the end of August to the early to middle parts of September. Many schools will be back in session, and you will find the weather is warm enough to still take part in traditional summer fun.
That rule is especially true in southern states where children go back to school earlier than those in northern states. In the past, I have gotten great flight deals when visiting beaches in Alabama and North Carolina towards the end of August.
Children stay in school longer into June in northern states. I regularly visit Cape May, New Jersey at the beginning of June before prices skyrocket when children get out of school.
Further Reading: How to Find Cheap Summer Flights
Winter/Offseason for Traditional Summer Spots:
Remember, demand is the most important factor affecting flight prices. Most people want to visit traditional summer destinations when it is warm. While you will not be able to swim in the ocean, you can often find great deals on flights to popular summer spots in the United States, Canada, and Europe during the winter.
Notable exceptions include states like Florida and Hawaii that are warm for the entire year. You can expect to pay a premium for flights to those states in the winter since they are among the only warm places in the United States. States with popular ski destinations, including Colorado and Utah, are also more expensive in the winter.
Summer/Offseason for Traditional Winter Spots:
Most destinations have a popular season and an offseason. The example above focuses on the offseason for popular summer spots. Winter and fall/spring destinations also have high and low seasons. For ski destinations, consider going when it is warm out to take part in other activities such as hiking and kayaking. While many of the most popular activities may be closed in the offseason, many places in the United States offer a wide range of things to do despite the time of year.
I also recommend traveling to places like the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii in the summer when plane tickets are cheaper. Those destinations are more expensive in the winter when there are very few warm options in the United States.
Worst Times of Year to Fly
The worst times of the year to fly are during holidays and whenever kids are off from school. That means flights are going to be expensive from mid-December through early January. The days surrounding Thanksgiving are also very expensive.
If possible, avoid traveling during these times.
Thanksgiving is always one of the most expensive times to fly. The good news is it always falls on a Thursday. That makes it easy to predict the best and worst days to fly around Thanksgiving. The bad news is even the best days are still expensive.
Avoid the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Everyone wants to get back to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving, which makes Sunday such a popular day to fly. If you do decide to travel for Thanksgiving, Fly on the Monday or Tuesday before and the Monday or Tuesday after. While not ideal, flights on Thanksgiving Day are also fairly cheap.
See our complete guide on The Best & Worst Times to Fly Around Thanksgiving.
Like Thanksgiving, Christmas is also a very popular and expensive time to fly. Since it does not fall on the same day every year, it is harder to predict the best and worst days to fly. Remember, even the best days are still going to cost you. As a rule, the earlier you fly before Christmas Eve the better. Christmas Day is usually fair cheap, but the demand is not high for obvious reasons.
The days surrounding New Year’s are also a very expensive time to fly. The best and worst days depend on the year, so it is tough to provide a rule. Just know you are going to pay a premium regardless of the days you settle on.
See our complete guide on The Best & Worst Times to Fly Around Christmas
Big Sporting Events:
Major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, and NHL Finals create a lot of demand for flights. The highest demand is from the cities whose teams are competing. Expect high airfare prices a few days before an event from a city where a team has to travel. For example, airfare prices from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay skyrocketed a few days before the Eagles and Buccaneers playoff game in 2022. Airfare prices from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia dramatically increased a few days after the game.
If you want to travel to see your team play you are going to have to pay a premium on airline tickets. The bigger the stage the higher the cost. Flight ticket prices tend to increase to and from the host city as it gets closer to the championship.
Even during the regular season, flight prices go up when a team has an away game. For example, I paid a premium to fly from Philadelphia to Denver in 2021 to see the Eagles play the Broncos. The airlines did not account for the game and did not schedule any additional flights to keep up with the demand.
Spring Break dates depend on the school or University, but the peak dates are generally from the middle of February through the early parts of April. Since most of the United States is still cold during those months, families and college kids tend to travel to warm places. Flights to Florida are going to be more expensive during the Spring Break months. If you do travel to Florida from February through April, consider flying into a less popular airport as opposed to Miami International Airport.
While Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two most popular travel periods, many people do fly on other holidays throughout the year. Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July are popular times to travel. If possible, consider driving instead of taking a flight when traveling around those holidays.
Peak Summer Months:
The middle of June through the middle of August is the peak of summer. Most states are at their warmest and the majority of kids are off from school. Flight prices tend to be very high during these periods.
Consider flying to Florida, the Caribbean, or ski towns during these months. While Florida is still a popular summer destination, it is cheaper compared to the winter months when it is one of the only warm states.
Here is a quick cheatsheet to use when planning vacation days.
Best & Worst Days to Fly Summary
|Best Time||Worst Time|
|Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday||Sunday, Monday, and Friday|
|Very early morning & very late at night||Mid-morning & late afternoon|
|Shoulder season and offseason||Holidays, summer, spring break, sporting events|
Best Days & Times to Book Flights
Unfortunately, there is no best day of the week to book flights. The good news is great airfare prices are available 24/7. Do not believe myths such as the best times to book are on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. While it is possible to find cheap flight prices on a Tuesday or Wednesday, there is no reason to focus on those times.
See our complete guide on The Best Days & Times to Book Flights
Generally, the best days of the week to fly domestically are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Thursday is the next best day, but it tends to be a little more expensive.
Generally, the worst days of the week to fly domestically are Sunday, Monday, and Friday.
Most business travel takes place on Monday and Friday. Many vacationers tend to fly on Fridays and Sundays.
International airfare prices are harder than domestic to predict. We have consistently found great deals every day of the week for international flights.
The best times are shoulder seasons and off-seasons. Go to popular summer destinations in the winter and go to popular winter destinations in the summer.
The worst times are during holidays, over the summer, around major sporting events, and whenever kids are off from school.
Very early morning flights and redeye flights tend to be the cheapest.
There is no best day to book flights. Low prices are available 24/7.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Look for flights departing and returning on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Try to fly during the shoulder season as opposed to the peak season. Remember, high demand means high flight prices. If possible, book a flight for the early morning or late at night as opposed to the mid-morning or late afternoon.
And remember, those are just guidelines. Factors such as lack of available flights and unforeseen high demand may limit your options. See our best websites to book flights and our guide on finding cheap flights for more information. Our best airline credit cards guide features ways to earn more points on airfare as well as other benefits. Our how to get through airport security faster guide will help you prepare after booking your flight. Finally, our What to Do if Your Airline Cancels or Delays Your Flight and How to Avoid Airline Flight Delays & Cancellations guides can help you if you experience an interruption at home or at the airport.
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