The ‘cheapest time’ to book flights is a myth, says Google

Brutal combination of soaring gas prices, inflation and travel disruption have many, including the team at Google Flights, looking for the best way to book cheap flights.

Just as airline ticket prices are rising – after an 8% drop in July, that is still 30% higher than in 2021 – as well as Google search volume for “cheapest airline tickets”. The online query rocketed 240% from April to August, Google found.

Google Flights decided to dig through five years of data to find reliable patterns that can help travelers find the cheapest way to fly.

The results may disappoint some who have sworn by the day or time they believed to be the cheapest to order.

“There’s not much value in buying your ticket on a certain day of the week – please, Tuesday!” wrote James Byers, product manager of the Google Flights group at a blog post Tuesday.

Five years of pricing data show that Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday bookings are only 1.9% cheaper on average than weekend bookings.

“So if your trip is only a few weeks away, don’t wait for Tuesday to roll around — book your flight now if the price goes up,” Byers wrote.

Focusing on the day of departure, not the day you buy the ticket, will save you money. Flights departing on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday are 12% cheaper than weekend departures – a figure that jumps to 20% when international destinations are excluded.

Other ways to save money include getting layovers. Nonstop flight prices are on average 20% higher.

Another money-saving pattern revealed by the data is the number of days in advance to book to get the best price: 21-60 days out for domestic, with an average price of 44 days. These numbers, of course, fluctuate by route, so check early.

Planning a trip to Europe? The lowest price was found 129 days out, but the low price ranged anywhere between 50 and 179 days before the trip. For Mexico and the Caribbean, the range is 37-87 days and 59 days before that is the sweet spot.

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