Thank you for subscribing!
Got it! Thank you!
New Study of Millions of Airfares Reveals the Best Days to Purchase and to Fly | Frommer's sirtravelalot / Shutterstock

New Study of Millions of Airfares Reveals the Best Days to Purchase and to Fly

For the fourth year in a row, a study by the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) and Expedia has named Sundays as the best day of the week to book travel—if saving money is your goal.

I know, I know: You heard a decade ago that Tuesdays are the best day to purchase travel, and ever since then you've seen talking heads on local news chuckle as they say, "There is no best day." It's all superstition, right?

I don't think it is. And that's for one simple reason: These conclusions were reached after artificial intelligence combed through roughly 55 million airfare transactions.

After all that data was processed, ARC and Expedia found that, statistically speaking, domestic fares purchased on Sundays were 5% cheaper than those booked on Fridays, which is the priciest day of the week to buy.

For international fares, the difference was even more stark. Airfares were a whopping 15% lower when bought on Sundays than they were on Fridays (which was, again, the costliest day of the week to make plans).

That's the headline of this annual report, but there were other actionable takeaways, including:

• People who booked at least one month ahed for domestic travel (and 6 months out for international flights) paid 10% less than those who booked their tickets closer to the flying date.

* For domestic travel, ARC and Expedia have said that the sweet spot for finding the lowest domestic fares is now 28–35 days before travel. They did not announce the ideal timing for international fares.

• Starting your round-trip journey on a Wednesday also yields savings. Statistically, those who began flying on domestic journeys on a Wednesday paid 15% less than those who took off at the start of the week (on Sunday or Monday, specifically).

* Outbound Wednesday flights saved international travelers 10% when compared to Saturday and Sunday departures.

This year, of course, we don't only want to know about saving money. Huge numbers of passengers are experiencing delays and cancellations, too, so ARC and Expedia also studied the best timing for getting where you're going with the least hassle.

They looked at data from January through August of 2022 and found that people who flew after 3pm were 50% more likely to experience a flight cancellation.

Also, delays were far shorter in off-peak (and less stormy) months like March and April compared to the summer. In fact, when flight delays happen in the spring, they were about 40 minutes shorter than they were in the summer.

Will flights be just as delay- and cancellation-prone in the coming months?

The folks at Expedia don't think so, stating that "overall, airlines have steadily improved their services with total cancellations dropping from more than 7% early in the year to around 3% in August. The trend is expected to continue in a positive direction for travelers, meaning 2023 should see a significantly reduced risk of flight disruptions."

Let's hope they're right!