If you fly often, you may have been frustrated and confused with how flight prices change seemingly randomly.
However, when flight prices drop isn’t necessarily random.
Airlines change flight prices according to market demand, and they drop prices mostly when demand for a route is low.
By the end of this article, you’ll never be in doubt as to why flight prices change, and the best and worst days and time to book your flight tickets.
When Do Flight Prices Drop?
Flight prices can change multiple times a day depending on several factors, including:
- Market conditions
- Number of flight bookings
- Seat Availability
- Number of Routes
Normally, most flight prices only change once per day, though.
Airlines regularly change flight prices during a week depending on competitor’s prices and other factors, which is done to maximize profits and increase the number of filled seats.
So airlines’ priorities are to increase total profits, not increase the price per ticket.
To achieve that, they’ll also evaluate seat demand and availability.
Most price adjustments done by airlines are automatically completed using software, which analyzes competitor data.
Cheapest Days of the Week to Fly
For domestic flights in the United States, flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are normally the cheapest.
For international flights out of the United States, weekday flights are normally the cheapest.
Cheapest Months to Fly
Generally, the cheapest month for domestic flights in the United States is January; January is 10% cheaper than June on average.
The cheapest month for international flights is August, which is 20% cheaper than December.
Frequency of Flight Price Changes
Flight prices frequently decrease on Monday nights or Tuesday mornings, but it’s not uncommon for them to change multiple times before the date of departure.
Normally, airlines accept flight bookings 11 months before departure dates.
Sometimes airlines will charge more for early bookings because they will have time to reduce fares if the plane is not full, and they need to sell more tickets closer to the departure date.
Most airlines will decrease ticket prices until 4 four months before the departure date.
The ticket prices will generally remain lowest between 4 months and 3 weeks before the departure date, and then will increase 3 weeks before departure.
Ticket prices are at their highest on the date of departure.
When Flight Prices DON’T Drop
You may have heard that flight prices go down on Tuesdays, but is this just urban legend, or is there some truth to it?
While, yes, there are cheap flights on Tuesdays, you can often find cheaper flights on Wednesdays and Thursdays. So, the idea that flights are cheapest on Tuesdays is largely an outdated myth.
Modern airlines frequently change their prices and have no set policies for reducing fares during specific days of the week.
Airline ticket prices depend entirely on the airline’s perceived profitability.
So, don’t assume you’re guaranteed a better deal on a Tuesday flight.
Close to the Departure Date
Generally, flight prices do not go down closer to the departure date. If anything, plane tickets are actually likely to become more expensive the closer to departure you get.
Flight tickets are cheapest when booked between 4 months and 3 weeks before the departure date, so last minute flights are not cheaper as some people seem to think.
CheapAir.com reports that according to the 2019 Annual Airfare Study, ticket rates increase within 3 weeks of the departure date.
Of course, there may be additional factors that affect airplane ticket date, such as seasonal holidays and changes.
Which Days of the Week and Months Are More Expensive to Fly?
Flights scheduled to take off on Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive in the world, particularly in the U.S.
The data show that travelers pay an estimated 3% higher fare on Friday flights near 3 A.M.
It’s believed this is due to airlines managing their sales early in the workweek and finishing before the end of the week.
December is the most expensive month to fly because of the holidays and Christmas.
The average round-trip in the United States costs $360 in December and $279 in January.
Do Flight Prices Go Up the More You Search?
Many people wonder if flight prices go up the more they search.
But there is no evidence to suggest that the more often you search for flights online, the more the price will increase.
In fact, there’s actually evidence to suggest that you’ll see lower prices if you’re a logged-in user who frequently searches for flights.
You can confirm this by searching for flights using both your regular browser and then switching to incognito mode
Airlines are more likely to provide you with discounts and cheaper flight tickets if you regularly fly with them and use credit cards that offer bonuses with that airline.
4 Reasons Why Flight Prices Change
Airlines change prices to maximize ticket sales and revenue.
Ultimately, flight ticket prices primarily depend on market demand. When airlines feel that fewer people want a flight, they decrease prices, and when there’s higher demand for flights, airlines increase prices.
More specifically, airlines use the following factors to judge the best time to change prices:
- Popularity of the Destination
Airlines will dramatically increase ticket prices for a destination if it suddenly becomes more popular.
For example, big events like the Superbowl increase demand for the location they’re held in, resulting in airlines increasing fares to those places.
- Seats Sold
Filling all seats is a priority for airlines.
If demand for a flight is low and there’s low occupancy, an airline will decrease ticket prices to encourage more people to buy.
Conversely, if demand for a flight increases, airlines will increase ticket prices to fill their planes with the most profit per ticket.
- Flight Cancellations
Real-world events, including economic problems and strikes, sometimes lead to flight cancellations.
Normally, when this happens, it means there are fewer total seats available for a specific route.
As a result, the airlines will increase prices if they’re certain demand for the route still exists.
- Historical Analysis
Looking at historical ticket data can be a very useful way to better understand when ticket prices for a particular route will change.
While it’s not always possible to draw general predictions about when flight prices will increase or decrease, it could still give you some indication of price changes.
Flights are generally the most inexpensive between four months and three weeks before your departure date. Seasonal changes and holidays can create price fluctuations in ticket prices. The day of the week that you book a flight does not affect the price.What is the best and worst day to buy airline tickets? ›
Don't wait until the last minute. You can save 10% by booking domestic flights a month in advance and international flights six months before traveling, according to the travel data firm. Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly. Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays are the priciest days to start a trip.What time of day is cheapest to book flights? ›
According to Skyscanner's research, the best time to book on any given day is around 5 a.m. So, it's true that the early bird gets the worm. Or, the flight deal, that is. In addition, whether you want to save on domestic or international flights, you should also fire up your laptop on Sunday.What day of the week is cheapest to book flights? ›
Here are the top takeaways according to the 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report: Book airfare on a Sunday to save up to 15%: Travelers who book on Sundays instead of Fridays tend to save, on average, around 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights.Do flight prices go down on Tuesday? ›
Average domestic airfare price by day
The cheapest days to depart if you're flying within the U.S. are midweek — generally Tuesday or Wednesday. For economy tickets, Tuesdays are about 24% lower than peak prices on Sundays, which translates to savings of about $85 per ticket.
In general, flights were slightly cheaper at midnight earlier in the week (Monday through Wednesday). However, this is only applicable to about 1.6% of U.S. markets, meaning that it's not likely you'll find the same savings on your specific route. And midnight later in the week actually gets more expensive.