An average of nearly 80 significant fare sales occur every day in popular markets, but often last for only a few days or even hours
The most common day for airlines to launch fare sales is Tuesday, and the most popular time is between noon and 3 pm
Keep a close eye on prices for your favorite routes or visit our deals page to find the best fare sales from your city
We’ve all seen the emails from our favorite airfare site - ‘Flights to New York for $99!’,’Book your trip to Vegas now for only $79!’. When the price of flight drops suddenly, we call it a fare sale (buyer beware: not all advertised cheap offers from airlines or OTAs are really any cheaper than typical low prices on a route). Airlines start and stop fare sales unpredictably, based on competition or excess inventory, and they are too frequently gone before you even get a chance to look. These sales can sometimes save lucky customers hundreds of dollars, but only if they’re quick enough to grab a ticket before the sale ends.
The tricky thing about identifying sales is how much information you have to watch. With over 600 active airports in the US alone, there are hundreds of thousands of markets to check for potential sales at any given time. By watching prices in real-time across all these markets, and detecting sudden changes in the typical quoted price, we’re able to find sales soon after they start in any market. For example, Figure 1 shows prices for Oakland to Dallas dropping significantly early on Oct 7th:
To get a better idea of when sales are most likely, we looked at the more than 5,500 sales we identified over a 70-day period (Figure 2). This accounted for over 131 unique origins (83 in the US), and 315 unique destinations (76 in the US).
The most common day for sales to start was early in the week, on Tuesday, followed by Wednesday and Thursday (Figure 3). This is probably because sales are initiated by airline sales & marketing staff. Sales were distributed fairly evenly between business and nonbusiness hours, but looking more closely at time of day, sales are most likely to occur between noon and three, and least likely early in the morning (Figure 4).
While the majority sales happen in the afternoon, Figure 1 is an example of a sale that starts outside of the ‘peak sale time’. On October 7th, at around 5 AM PDT, the minimum price on the OAK-DFW route dropped from ~$140 (blue) to $115 (red). With this sale occurring so early in the morning, (8 AM on the East Coast), it would be difficult discover manually.
If you want to be updated about great sales as they happen, head to Hopper’s new Deals page and sign up for live notifications.