Planning your trip around the cheapest days to fly makes a big dent in the total cost. Find out which weekdays will net you the biggest airfare savings – and the most expensive days of the week to fly – in our handy travel guide.
What Are the Cheapest Days to Fly?
- Wednesday is the overall cheapest day to fly
- Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly domestically
- Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly internationally
- Save 10%-20% on airfare on these weekdays
Deciding when it’s time for you to fly? You’ll save a pretty penny and stretch your travel dollar a little further when you plan to depart and return on the cheapest days to fly.
There’s no disputing the fact that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly, period. This is true for flights both domestic and international.
Wednesday is practically the patron saint for budget travelers!
But if you just can’t book on a Wednesday or you need a little more wiggle room in your itinerary, you have a few options.
Google Flights found that the cheapest days to fly are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when fewer travelers are hopping on a plane. Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly if you’re flying internationally.
They noted (of course) that Wednesday in particular seems to be the cheapest day to fly overall with savings as high as 15%-20%.
With the average airfare cost up to $208 this year, even a 10% discount on airfare means you’re getting $20 off. Bigger 20% discounts translate to almost $42 off your ticket price – just for flying on the right weekday!
It’s not just Google Flights finding this trend, either.
The Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC)’s 2023 Global Airline Sales Database and travel app Hopper’s historical pricing data also confirm that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly overall.
Hopper found that airfare can be discounted by 20% or more when you fly domestically on a Wednesday. Slightly lower, but still notable, discounts can be “unlocked” by flying on a Monday or Tuesday, too.
Why are flights cheaper on certain days of the week? It’s pretty simple and it has to do with demand.
Most people time their trips so they can depart for their destination at the end of the week (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) and return the following weekend before work or school starts again.
You can take advantage of this general trend by bucking it entirely and flying in and out at the beginning or middle of the week.
Let’s take a closer look at the cheapest days to fly domestically, internationally, and the best days to book flights. We’ll also share some bonus tips to scoring cheaper flights without tweaking your itinerary too much!
What Are the Cheapest Days to Fly Domestically?
You’ll see the biggest savings when you fly domestic in the middle of the week. Travelers pay 15-20% less for airfare when departing on a Wednesday.
Google Flights found that travelers save an average of 15% on the cost of their ticket when they fly out or back home on a Wednesday compared to the busier depart days on Sunday and Monday.
Those midweek flight savings can be compounded if you’re flying during a busy time of year, like Spring Break, summertime, or around the holiday season.
Travel app Hopper found that travelers save about 17%, or $56, per ticket when flying domestic on a Wednesday compared to a busier weekday like Friday or Sunday.
That’s the base savings for flying on a Wednesday, but when things get busier, you’ll save even more. During Spring Break and summer months, those savings rise to about $60 per domestic ticket.
You’ll really rack up the savings when you fly domestic during the holidays, netting an average of $100 off your airfare just by traveling in the middle of the week.
If you can book your domestic flight on a Sunday – the best day to book cheap flights – you’ll notice even more savings, with ticket prices anywhere from 5% to 20% cheaper than when booked on other weekdays.
While Monday and Tuesday can offer some viable savings on flight costs, Wednesday is truly the best choice among the 3 cheapest days to fly domestically.
What Are the Cheapest Days to Fly Internationally?
The cheapest days to fly internationally are Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday international flights are about 12% cheaper with Thursday in a close second place.
Wednesday takes the number one spot among the cheapest days to fly internationally. You’ll nab discounts as much as 10-12% off the price you’d pay when flying internationally on a Saturday or Sunday.
Flying on Thursday can also lead to lower flight prices when you’re traveling abroad, though not as cheap as Wednesday.
While flying on Wednesday is cheaper than flying on Thursday, NerdWallet found that the cost difference is minimal and shouldn’t set you back too much if you can’t swing a Wednesday flight.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are excellent days of the week to depart or return from your trip when you’re flying internationally.
You won’t save quite as much as you would with domestic flights, but 10-12% savings can really add up when you’re talking about an expensive trip abroad.
What’s the Cheapest Time of Day to Fly?
If you’re really budget-hacking your trip, you’ll want to book your flight for the cheapest time of day – the early morning hours from 5AM to 8AM.
There isn’t a lot of strong data to support it, but anecdotal evidence from multiple sources shows that early morning flights tend to be cheaper than those later in the day.
If you can roll out of bed early enough to hop on a flight at 5-8 AM, you’ll benefit by paying less than your (admittedly more well-rested) counterparts flying out around 10AM or later.
A quick Google search of available flights from Nashville to Chicago found that nonstop, round trip flights hovered around $118 with a 5AM departure time. If you wait until the 3PM nonstop round trip flight, you’d pay closer to $168.
Similarly, departing JFK airport in Queens to Miami International Airport nonstop, round trip would cost you about $138 for a flight leaving at 8AM or $188 if you leave at 2PM.
Can you imagine paying $50 more just to sleep in a bit? It’s so easy to save money on flights just by planning your trip out strategically.
When it comes to the cheapest time of day to book flights, early may also be better.
Travel app SkyScanner proposed that early morning around 5:00AM is the cheapest time to book a flight, but that information has been under heavy scrutiny from travel experts.
We say you can’t go wrong by planning to fly (and book your flights) early in the day. Just make sure you do it on the cheapest days to fly to compound your savings!
What’s the Cheapest Day to Book Flights?
We found Sunday to be the overall cheapest and best day to book flights with up to 20% savings on airfare costs when you book on this day.
The cheapest days to fly are not the same as the cheapest days to book flights. While Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the cheapest days to actually hop on a plane, they’re not actually the cheapest days to book flights!
Fewer people book their flights on Sundays and you can use this to your budget-balancing benefit.
Sunday is busy when it comes to actual flights arriving and departing, but it’s a little more humdrum when it comes to flight booking. With less booking demand on this day, flights can drop in price by as much as 20%.
Combine that with arranging your departure and arrival flights on the cheapest days to fly, and you’ve got a downright affordable trip coming up.
Sunday savings are the most noteworthy when you’re flying internationally or in a premium seat class.
Missed the Sunday window, but need to book before it rolls around again? No problem. You can also book midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) to save a little cash on flights.
You won’t save as much as booking on Sunday, but you can expect to shave about 2% off the cost of your tickets when you book midweek.
More Tips for Scoring Cheap Flights
Making your next trip more affordable might make it even more enjoyable! Weaken the whoopin’ your wallet receives by following these helpful hacks for cheaper flights.
- Stop choosing nonstop flights. Google Flights data found that nonstop fares are about 20% higher than flights with layovers. If you’ve got time on your hands and want a cheaper flight, forego the nonstop options in favor of layovers to save 20%.
- Don’t book too far in advance. Booking your flights more than 3 months out is unnecessary and more expensive for domestic flights, even around the holidays. You’ll save money by booking about 1 month out from your planned trip for domestic flights. You can book up to 6 months in advance for international flights without running into higher costs.
- Avoid last-minute trips. While booking too far in advance can result in higher ticket prices, so can booking last-minute. Cheap last-minute tickets are a thing of the past and trying to book within a week or two of your planned trip means you’ll pay a premium price for airfare. Try to book about 30-45 days before your trip for the best prices on airfare.
- Combine airfare savings with hotel savings. The cheapest days to fly domestically (Monday-Wednesday) thankfully align with some of the cheapest days to stay in hotels, so take full advantage! Hotel rates are lower Sunday through Tuesday, so plan to arrive early in the week to reduce your accommodations costs along with lower airfare.
- Get real flexible, real fast. Flexibility gives you more access to cheaper airfare than anything else. Be open to departing from a different airport, changing your dates, switching your arrival time, or arriving in a cheaper nearby city to cut down on your costs. The more flexible you are, the more you can save.
If you can learn to love layovers (hey, it’s possible), avoid booking too early or too last-minute, align your arrival day with the cheapest hotel rates, and prioritize trip flexibility, you’ll be well on your way to scoring cheaper flights that feel like a steal of a deal.
Another important thing to note is that these “rules” for scoring cheap flights are based on averages. That means they’re likely to be true for your flight scenario, but there are going to be exceptions.
Major holidays, airline problems, and normal flight demand fluctuations can all affect the “Wednesday=Cheap flights” rule.
You might sit down to research flight prices for your upcoming trip and find that Thursday or Saturday end up being the cheapest days to fly.
The key here is being a smart, savvy consumer and committing yourself to finding the best price on your flights. It’s likely to be a Sunday booking with a Wednesday departure, but exceptions exist and shouldn’t be ignored.
So, What Are the Cheapest Days to Fly Overall?
The rumors are true – you can definitely score cheaper flights by tweaking the day of the week you depart and return. Let’s simplify everything into helpful little nuggets of info you can easily remember for upcoming trips!
If you’re flying domestically, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the 3 cheapest days to fly. But Wednesday holds the biggest airfare savings, so if you can, plan to depart and return on a Wednesday.
If you’re flying internationally, Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly. Wednesday is, once again, in the number one spot! But Thursday can offer great savings if a Wednesday flight isn’t available.
You can save anywhere from 10% to 20% on your airfare if you plan to fly on a Wednesday compared to the much-busier days of Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Your savings will be a little less, but similar if you fly on Monday or Tuesday.
Saving 10-20% on airfare means you might pay $20-$41 less for your ticket with bigger discounts on more expensive international flights.
It’s not a huge amount, but it really adds up when you’re buying more than one ticket or you’re shaving costs wherever you can for a more affordable trip.
All in all, it’s worth it to pay attention to the flight statistics and fly during the beginning or middle of the week.
Try flying on Wednesday for the greatest savings, but know that flying on Monday or Tuesday (domestic) or Thursday (international) can net you similar savings that’ll feel just as good.