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Is there a best day of the week to book airfare?

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Shopping from home (Photo: LLC, FogStock)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 10, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Jessica Labrencis.

There's a bit of an urban legend that certain times of the day are better than others for booking airfare. This doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but there are better days to book than others.

Heather Leisman, director of merchandising at Orbitz, notes that sophisticated algorithms used by the airlines determine prices for airfare; these algorithms take into account a wide variety of factors, including the route's history, available seats, booking patterns, and even the weather. Leisman says that prices fluctuate throughout the day, and it's difficult to predict if and when prices will drop at any given time.

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Several experts believe that booking on certain days, rather than time of day, can yield lower prices. Travelocity's Director of Flights, Dominique Philips, says that most airlines tend to release sales on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, a trend we've also noticed at SmarterTravel.com, which makes searching for airfare early in the week smart.

John Morrey, vice president of retail air at Expedia agrees. In his opinion, booking on Tuesday evenings is ideal. He notes that airlines tend to release fare sales on Tuesday mornings, and if other carriers match, they usually do so by the evening. Fare sales generally end on Fridays, and Morrey says, "In addition, when airlines raise fares, they tend to do this on a weekend, so Saturdays and Sundays [are] less attractive."

Booking at off-peak times such as late at night or in the early morning may not help you score a low fare, but according to Morrey, you may have an easier time searching for airfare during off-peak times. He says, "[Booking] systems are designed to handle peak loads, but run even faster in off-peak hours when there's less traffic."

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