The Biggest Myth About Booking Flights

You ever get that feeling of mild outrage when you hear a sentence that’s just plain wrong yet gets stated as certain fact? Hopper puts one myth to bed.

Hopper Editors - Jul. 27, 2015

You ever get that feeling of mild outrage when you hear a sentence that’s just plain wrong yet gets stated as certain fact?

Sometimes, that’s how Hopper feels when we read booking tips, especially that Tuesday is always the cheapest day to book a flight. This tip is pervasive online, and somehow, everybody believes it. We hear it least once per week. It’s popular because it provides a hard-and-fast rule, a rare glimmer of certainty, in the travel-booking process.

Tuesday is not always the cheapest day to book your flight.

Hopper dove into the numbers, to see if we could prove this one wrong. And indeed, our research found that the cheapest day of the week to book your flight varies widely. Domestic and international routes are totally different. Tuesday may be the cheapest day to book your particular route… but it’s actually more likely that it’s not.

Here is what we found:

Domestic Destinations by Best Booking Day

Number of markets with the lowest price on each day of week and average price savings for domestic and international markets

First, when we looked at average pricing, we found that for domestic flights the cheapest tickets actually show up on Thursday. On the left-hand side, you can see the potential savings for booking during each day of the week, with Thursday offering both the most potential savings (the dotted line) as well as the most number of markets where that rule applies. You can see that on Tuesday, potential savings are both smaller and available in fewer markets.

Secondly, while the difference in pricing from day to day can be significant in select markets, on average, the savings are only about $10 for domestic markets and $30 for international markets. So the promised “hundreds” you could save by booking on Tuesday? Probably not going to happen.

Of course, for any tip that is true in aggregate, it’s possible to find a market that is the exception. Your route could very well be the exception. But it’s important to know that there is so much variation to the Tuesday rule that it’s no rule at all.

This is one of those problems that the Hopper app solves. Shameless self-promotion, but the Hopper app can actually tell you what day is cheapest to book your flight, simply because we track historical pricing trends for many, many trips. Tap the binocular icon to watch a trip and we’ll share that information with you.

Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources, which includes about 10 million queries and 1 billion trips per day. Demand is represented as the number of queries, not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market. For this analysis, we looked at about 11,000 markets worldwide, 7,500 domestic and 3,500 international, that had a popularity of at least 1,000 searches per week since January 1, 2013.

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