Do airlines raise their fares on weekends?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 16, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, frequent flyer, Jessica Labrencis.

Dear Jessica,

Do airlines tend to raise their fares on weekends?

--S.C.

Dear S.C.,

Good question. Since many people are busy with work, school, and other obligations during the week, vacation planning is often done during free moments on the weekend. Wouldn't it make sense, then, that the airlines would choose to hike fares during the weekend to maximize profits?

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Maybe, but only to a certain extent.

While airlines don't necessarily raise fares on weekends, they do offer new fare sales during the week. Erin Krause, a spokeswoman for Expedia, says the best time to book airfare is on Tuesdays. Airlines generally release new sales early on Tuesdays, and if other carriers match existing sales, they will do so by the end of business on Tuesday. You'll often find the best prices and availability on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday mornings.

Barbara Messing, a vice president and travel expert at Hotwire, generally agrees with Krause's advice, noting that though fares can change at any time, fare sales are usually announced early in the week.

Using a website that will track prices for you is the best way to keep up with fare fluctuations. Both Expedia and Hotwire offer such programs, as do Kayak, Travelocity, and Orbitz.

Of course, booking on Tuesdays isn't a foolproof plan. Some airlines—Southwest and Spirit, for example—often release weekend-only sales that you'd miss if you exclusively searched for fares during the week. Your best bet is to be aware of when the new sales usually come out, and, most importantly, to compare fares before you book.

 
 
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