The best time of the week not to buy a ticket is on the weekend, even if it feels like you’re buying into a crazy game of numbers.
In fact, the magic day to usually buy a plane ticket is on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The reasoning goes a little something like this: fares tend to be the most expensive on the weekend because everyone in the office goes home to their life then. With no one to restock inventory, fares tend to jump higher because of scarce availability and the basic tenets of supply and demand.
It isn’t until Monday, when the powers-that-be replenish the number of available seats, lowering the price. Then on Tuesday, competitors are scrambling to match the price leaving you with the best chance to score a cheap ticket. Phew. Whether it’s a ploy just to make me stay up until 4 in the morning, I can’t tell, but I can say for certain I once snagged a one-way from Hong Kong to Los Angeles for $350 in the wee hours of the early work week.
Generally, the theory, though, has held up pretty well. In fact, the Wall Street Journal tested this premise a few years ago:
Two weeks ago, a Chicago-Atlanta round-trip ticket for April travel dates cost $209 on Tuesday and Wednesday on American and Delta, but then $301 for the next four days. When Tuesday rolled around last week, the fare dropped to $219 at both airlines for the April 8-15 itinerary. By Friday it was up to $307 at both American and Delta. Come Tuesday this week, the fare was down to $229.
But if that explanation doesn’t satisfy you, Rick Seaney, the man who runs FareCompare.com, once studied price fluctuations for three years! His suggestion? Hang around until 3 EST on a Tuesday afternoon. Now that’s some pretty specific advice. He's also not the only one to suggest hanging around in the early week.
Mañana. Not today.