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If you travel a lot, you could potentially save a lot of money if you buy plane tickets on a certain day.
Here’s what you need to know…
See the best time to buy plane tickets and the best day to buy plane tickets if you want to save money.
According to Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare, Tuesday is the best day to buy plane tickets.
More specifically, 3 PM on a Tuesday is the absolute best time to buy plane tickets!
Usually, when an airline wants to launch a sale, it will do so late Monday. When the other airlines see this, they immediately go into competitive mode, and begin lowering their own prices to match the first one’s sale. All the airlines that plan to join in on this “matching” will have completed the process by early Tuesday afternoon, so by 3 PM, shoppers will have the most “good prices” to choose from.
Note: usually that original sale ends in just 2 or 3 days, and the matching fares of the other airlines will disappear by then as well, if not sooner. Remember, if all those sale prices disappear in a single day, that’s it, they are gone. The airline is not going to put up a fresh supply of cheap seats to meet the demand. It just doesn’t work that way. —Rick Seaney
In case you’re wondering, Rick says Tuesdays and Saturdays are the next best days to buy plane tickets.
Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor for CBS News, has the same theory — but he takes it a step further.
Greenberg says that one hour after Tuesday midnight (1 AM Wednesday morning) is actually the best time to buy plane tickets.
Here is his rationale:
Fare wars are started by the weakest competitors, and the big guys tend to be the ones to raise fares. And all of that tends to happen on Fridays … Let’s say Airline A decides to raise fares. It usually does so at a late hour on a Friday night. By Saturday, Airline A’s major competitors will probably match that fare increase. Remember, I said some, but not all, of the majors will match that fare. By late Monday, depending on how that new fare is doing in the marketplace, Airline C might jump into the battle and offer an even lower fare, so look for all the other airlines to rush to match that one — usually by Tuesday — and the war is on.
Prices might go even lower on Wednesday. And that’s when you strike. Wait any longer than Wednesday, and you may be in trouble. The wars usually end by Thursday morning. Why? Friday is just around the corner! And the cycle starts all over again. What’s the best time to buy your ticket on Wednesday? One hour after Tuesday midnight (1 AM Wednesday morning). —Peter Greenberg
For the record, Wednesday at 1 AM as the best day and time to buy plane tickets is also supported by Fodor’s Travel Wire.
The Bottom Line
It’s clear that Tuesday is the best day to buy plane tickets, according to most experts.
Travel experts have long said Tuesday is when sales are most often in place, which is true. An analysis of domestic fares shows that Wednesday also has good (and occasionally better) ticket prices. —Wall Street Journal
But… if you’re going to buy your plane ticket directly from the airline, then buy them on Wednesday from midnight to 1AM in the time zone of the airline’s home base (their headquarters).
That’s when the computer systems of most airlines get rid of the reserved but unbooked lower fare reservations. Most of us at one time or another have booked a reservation, then let it go without purchase. Snap-up these discounted fares right after this happens and you’re likely to get a significant discount. —Consumerist
Always on the lookout for a good bargain, I consider myself a frugal person — but not cheap. And not afraid to spend money on the things that matter. I like to share good deals with others when I find them. One of my favorite ways to save money is to reuse items in ways other than their intended purpose — so I write a lot about outside-the-box ideas that most people wouldn't think of! When I'm not saving money or looking for good deals, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).