A brutal combination of soaring gas prices, inflation and travel disruptions have many, including the team at Google Flights, looking for the best way to book a cheap flight.
Just as the price of airfare has gone up – after an 8% drop in July, it was still 30% higher than in 2021 – so has the volume of Google searches for “cheapest airline tickets.” The online query rocketed 240% from April to August, Google found.
Google Flights decided to dig into five years’ worth of data to find any reliable patterns that might help travelers find the cheapest way to fly.
The results may disappoint some who have sworn by a certain day or time believed to be the cheapest for booking.
“There isn’t much value in purchasing your tickets on a certain day of the week — sorry, Tuesday!” wrote James Byers, Google Flights group product manager in a blog post Tuesday.
Five years of price data showed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays wound up being only 1.9% cheaper on average than booking on a weekend day.
“So if your trip is just a couple of weeks away, don’t wait for Tuesday to roll around — book your flight now in case the price goes up,” Byers wrote.
Focusing on the departure day, not the day you buy the ticket, will save you the most money. Flights leaving on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays were 12% cheaper than weekend departures — a number that jumps to 20% when excluding international destinations.
Other ways to save money include accepting layovers. Nonstop flight prices were 20% higher on average.
Another money-saving pattern the data revealed was the number of days in advance one should book to get the best price: 21-60 days out for domestic, with an average low price of 44 days. These numbers, of course, fluctuate by route, so check early.
Planning a trip to Europe? The lowest fare was found 129 days out, but low prices ranged anywhere between 50 and 179 days in advance of the trip. For Mexico and the Caribbean, the range was 37-87 days with 59 days in advance being the sweet spot.