The Best Day to Score Cheap Flights — and When to Book to Avoid Cancellations, According to New Data

Expedia just released its annual Air Travel Hacks report with great tips on how to save on travel in the coming year.

Travel is climbing back to pre-pandemic levels and, in some cases, surpassing them. Naturally, the pent-up demand for transportation and accommodation also affects every traveler's bottom line. So if you'd like to save on travel during the holiday season and next year, Expedia has plenty of tips sourced from newly released data, starting with the best day to book flights.

Travelers who purchase airfare on a Sunday may save, on average, 5% on domestic flights and up to 15% on international airfare, according to the booking platform's 2023 Air Travel Hacks report, released today. Expedia points out that purchasing tickets on a Sunday saved 5% more in 2022 than in 2021. The company teamed up with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which looked at data for average round-trip ticket prices from January through August of this year for flights originating in the U.S.

According to Expedia, upgrading to a higher travel class can save you even more. For domestic and international flights in a premium class, travelers can save 20% on average if they book on a Sunday versus a Friday.

A passenger waiting for flight with scenic mountain view

Milos Bataveljic/Getty Images

"Whether or not there's truly a 'best day of the week to book airfare' seems to be actively debated by industry experts, but we looked at four years of data and billions of transactions for this report, and booking on Sunday tends to save travelers money on airfare," Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia brands, told Travel + Leisure. "We're also seeing airfare prices increase earlier than they used to, so travelers should think about booking further in advance than in years past."

Infographic with Expedia travel hacks

Courtesy of Expedia

So, how early should you book? For domestic airfare, the sweet spot is between 28 and 35 days before the trip, according to the new report. That way, you could pay 10% less on average than if you waited up to two weeks before the desired departure date. Plan your international trips even earlier, or about six months out, to save 10% on your ticket.

And while Sunday may be the best day to book a trip, choosing Wednesday as your departure date for domestic flights can cut your travel costs by 15% versus starting your trip on a Sunday or Monday. That number is 10% for international flights compared to a weekend departure date.

With flight disruptions were major issue over the summer, Expedia also looked at flight status data from January until August of this year, which showed that flights leaving after 3 p.m. have a 50% higher chance of being canceled than those departing earlier in the day.

"Air travel can be pretty complex, with prices changing constantly, which is why Expedia gives travelers access to machine learning-driven technology that allows them to make decisions based on historical and real-time pricing data," Gieselman added. He recommended using the company's new price tracking and predictions feature, which looks at years' worth of flight data to forecast price changes.

You can read Expedia's full 2023 Travel Hacks Report here.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles