Google Flights just busted a popular myth about saving money on flights

There are many ways to save money on flights.

But booking airfare on a certain day of the week isn’t one of them, according to data from Google Flights.

Booking mid-week — and especially Tuesdays around midnight — is often cited as the best time to purchase flights. But in the past five years, U.S. airfares purchased on Tuesdays, Wednesday or Thursdays have been only 1.9% cheaper on average than airfares purchased during the weekend, according to Google Flights.

“If your trip is just a couple of weeks away, don’t wait for Tuesday to roll around — book your flight now in case the price goes up,” wrote James Byers, Google Flights’ group product manager, on a blog post published yesterday.

Strategies that work

While the day of the week travelers book may not matter much, the day they fly does, according to Google Flights’ research, which examined five years of historical flight data from Aug. 1, 2017 to Aug. 1, 2022.

“On average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday have been 12% cheaper than weekend departures,” wrote Byers. “If you exclude international destinations, the potential savings jump even higher to 20%.”

Travelers looking to save money should avoid flying on Sundays, according to Google Flights.

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Another common strategy — booking early — also works, according to the data. For U.S. domestic flights, airfares have been lowest between three and eight weeks before a departure date, with prices “bottoming out” 44 days out, according to the research.

Non-stop flights cost on average about 20% more than connecting flights, according to Google Flights, but flights with stops also increase the risk of interruptions.

An Instagram poll by the travel insurance company World Nomads indicated more than 1 in 3 respondents spent up to $250 on flights, meals or hotels because of flight delays or cancellations this summer, while 12% reported spending between $500 to $1,000.

More ways to save

Travelers with flexible flying days can use Google Flights’ “date grid” function to quickly ascertain the cheapest dates to depart and arrive in a given week.  

Those who want to travel for a specific duration — say, two weeks — but are flexible on when, can use the “price graph” function to see the cheapest times to fly too.

Price tracking also eliminates the need to search again and again to price-check a desired route. Search the route once, hit the button to “track prices” and Google Flights will send notifications of airfare changes via email.  

‘Best times’ to book

Based on its historical data, Google Flights also suggests the “best times” to book flights for peak-period travel and popular routes.  

Travelers hoping to save money on airfare to Europe are advised to plan the earliest, while summer vacationers can consider making plans weeks, rather than months, in advance.