Confirmed: This Is the Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets for Pricing and Availability

Didn't get to take a vacation last year? Prices are better than ever now, but only if you know the secrets to booking the best airfare.

Thinking about flying off somewhere in the new year? You’re not alone. The TSA screened nearly as many passengers for the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday period as they did in 2019, and numbers of travelers in the sky are expected to remain high (though how the Omicron variant will affect them remains to be seen). With everyone ages 5 and up eligible for vaccines, boosters now readily available, and attractive prices for everything from hotels to airfare, there’s a renewed interest in late-pandemic travel. And with it comes the age-old question: When’s the best day to buy airline tickets, whether for for a warm beach vacation or a snowy ski adventure?

We’ve got the answer to finding the best deal and all of your other airfare FAQs thanks to the experts at Expedia in partnership with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), including when to travel to get a great deal on a vacation in 2022, plus travel tips you won’t want to miss.

What is the best day to buy airline tickets?

In the past, you may have heard that the “secret” best day to buy airline tickets was Tuesday—but that’s no longer the way to get a great deal. Instead, according to Expedia, the ideal day to book a flight is…wait for it…Sunday! For domestic flights, booking at the end of the weekend can save travelers around five percent; for international flights the savings are nearly 10 percent. And check out our other great trick to pay less for airfare.

What are the cheapest days to fly?

Here’s another travel tip that may surprise you. The ideal day to start a domestic trip? Friday! Yes, leaving at the start of the weekend (instead of Monday, which used to be considered the cheapest day to fly) will yield savings of more than 15 percent, according to ARC and Expedia.

For international flights, the cheapest day to start the trip is on a Thursday, which will save travelers more than five percent. And for both domestic and international flights, it is generally cheaper to start the trip during the latter half of the week (Wednesday through Saturday) compared with the first half (Sunday through Tuesday). Here are more ways to travel cheap.

What’s the cheapest month to travel?

Travelers planning their 2022 trips can also unlock huge savings by being flexible and choosing the right month to travel: For domestic flights, the ideal month to depart according to Expedia and Arc is January, when travelers can save more than 10 percent versus traveling in June. For international flights, August is the ideal month to jet off, when travelers can save almost 20 percent, versus traveling in the height of the holiday season in December. Here are smart tips from frequent fliers that will make your next flight much easier.

When To Buy Airline Tickets GuideRD.com, Getty Images

When is the best time of day to travel?

Being a savvy traveler isn’t just about knowing the best day to buy airline tickets. It’s also about choosing the right time of day. Early is the way to go, travel experts agree. Early morning flights are typically less crowded—and they also give you more opportunities to get on another flight during the day if your flight is delayed or cancelled. Avoid taking the last flight of the day whenever possible, especially during the winter travel months, to reduce the chances of missed connections or getting stuck for the night in the airport due to bad weather. Make sure you also check out these must-see places in the U.S. to take your kids and teens if you’re trying to figure out where to go next.

What’s the best way to avoid waiting in lines?

The TSA screened nearly 2.5 million people a day during the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday. That meant long lines in many airports and travel hubs. Other than arriving early (at least two hours before your flight, says the TSA), invest in trusted traveler programs. Expedia and ARC suggest getting membership in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, both of which last five years, and/or CLEAR, which is renewed annually. With any of these options, you’ll get to skip the longer lines at security.

And pack light if you can. Checking bags can add time and expenses to travel. If possible, opt for carry-on luggage on your next trip. You’ll skip lines when you arrive at the airport and won’t have to wait for luggage when you land.

Whenever possible, select nonstop flights. Choosing a nonstop option instead of a connecting flight can make dealing with unexpected delays, crowds, or cancellations a little easier, since you don’t have to worry about getting on another flight. If you can’t take a direct flight, make sure to budget sufficient time to make a connection just in case your first flight is delayed.

Finally, many car rental companies offer contactless pick-up where you can just walk onto the lot and hop in your car, meaning you can skip the lines for your car rental, too. On Expedia, use the “Skip the counter” filter to find these options and avoid waiting in yet another line at the rental office.

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Melissa Klurman
Melissa is an intrepid explorer and award-winning travel journalist with more than 25 years of experience. She covers topics ranging from family travel and Disney to honeymoons and romantic beaches, and everything in between.