Saving money on business travel isn’t just about choosing the least expensive airline and finding the best travel site. Selecting the right days to fly can also make a major impact on pricing. Read on for a full guide on finding the cheapest time to fly for business travelers looking to cut costs.
Cutting Costs on Business Travel
Business travel can help you connect with clients, network with others in your industry, and attend large events around the world. But all those flights can weigh on your budget. Luckily, there are ways to save money on business travel while still reaping many of the benefits.
First, check sites like Airfarewatchdog and Skyscanner for deals on flights for affordable travel. Then consider changing your travel plans to find lower fares during slow travel seasons or days when airplanes generally aren’t full.
Of course, the specific fares may vary depending on what countries you fly to and whether you’re looking for short domestic flights or long international connections. But the tips below may help you find the cheapest flights available to you.
What are the cheapest days of the week to fly?
Specific fares vary by airline and destination. But choosing days where people generally don’t fly may help you find better deals so you can save on small business travel. Travel days that generally have low fares include Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Travelers often prefer to start the week with a flight and return home on a weekend. Tuesdays fall in the middle of the week. But they’re still close enough to the beginning for business travelers to spend several days at their destination before the weekend. On your next trip, consider booking meetings every day of the week but Monday to take advantage of Tuesday deals.
Wednesdays are inexpensive largely for the same reasons as Tuesdays. Vacationers generally travel on the weekends, and business travelers fly on Mondays and Fridays. Flying on Wednesday can allow you to get a few days of work in before the weekend. Or you could arrive at your destination a few days before a major trade show or weekend event.
Thursdays are late enough in the week that airlines don’t get a lot of business travelers. But they’re too early for most weekend getaways. This may be the perfect day for those looking to spend a weekend at special events while still getting cheap travel deals.
If you absolutely must travel on the weekend, Saturdays are usually the cheapest. You avoid business travelers returning home on Fridays and vacationers leaving on Sundays. It’s not generally as cheap as Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but it may be useful for business owners that need to start the week in their destination.
Here Are Some Examples…
Flights from Los Angeles to New York: Monday $129, Tuesday $107, Wednesday $108, Thursday $80, Friday $132, Saturday $118, Sunday $127
Flights from San Francisco to Atlanta: Monday $105, Tuesday $84, Wednesday $84, Thursday $115, Friday $115, Saturday $97, Sunday $126
Flights from New York to Frankfurt: Monday $436, Tuesday $336, Wednesday $311, Thursday $336, Friday $491, Saturday $417, Sunday $411
Flights from Detroit to London: Monday $761, Tuesday $443, Wednesday $443, Thursday $523, Friday $543, Saturday $573, Sunday $846
Worst Times of Year to Fly
The time of year you choose to fly can also make a major impact on pricing. There’s almost always increased demand for holiday travel. For example, the weeks of Christmas and spring break are always busy due to kids being out of school. The weekends of Labor Day and Memorial Day are also popular travel times with high rates. And summer in general is usually fairly busy.
These times don’t just come with higher than usual plane fares. Hotels and other travel expenses like rental cars are also generally more expensive during these times due to higher demand.
Cheapest Times of Year to Fly
Alternatively, less busy seasons often come with lower rates on flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. If you have a choice of season when booking business travel, consider the following times of year.
Fall usually comes with decreased travel demands. Kids are back in school and there aren’t major holidays that people get off work. Since everyone is usually done with their summer travel, September, October, and November (aside from Thanksgiving week) can be ideal for booking business trips.
People often book holiday travel during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Early December falls between those two. So there’s not as much activity.
In January, people are done with their holiday trips and many popular sites are less busy due to weather. This is often the sweet spot for finding flight deals in the early part of the year.
Cheapest Time of Day to Fly
The best times of day to fly are usually those that are not especially popular. Since people like flying when it’s comfortable and convenient, you may need to get up early or fly late in the evening to get the best deals. The cheapest times for flights are usually:
- Between 6 and 7 a.m.: This can be ideal for business travelers who want to make morning meetings, but it’s a bit early for most leisure travelers.
- Midnight or later: Red eye flights are tough for those with kids or anyone who wants to be well rested at their destination.
- Between 3 and 5 p.m.: The middle of the day is unattractive to a lot of flyers, since it leaves little free time on either side of the flight.
How many days before a flight is the best price?
Exact prices vary based on your home airport, desired destination, and time of year. However, the cheapest days to book usually fall around 70 days before the departure date. This is early enough that flights aren’t usually sold out, but late enough that airlines are incentivized to fill up seats.
Cheapest Day to Book Flights and Reduce Your Ticket Price
Tuesday around midnight is usually the best time to find cheap flights. Airlines often release deals on this date. Saturdays and Sundays are also good days to book, since there are fewer people browsing travel sites during work hours.
Cheapest Time to Book Flights and Save Money on Airline Tickets
The time of day you book flights can also impact airline ticket prices. Here are some times to focus on:
- Midnight: Midnight, especially on Tuesdays, can help you find deals just released by airlines.
- Early morning: Many of those deals are still available to early morning browsers. Just check in before people head to work and start logging in for the day.
- Late evening: There are usually fewer people browsing for flights late in the evening. You may find even better deals if you choose Monday evening, since some airlines release discounts a bit early.
Finding Cheap Flight Deals: The Bottom Line
If your travel can be flexible, here are more ways to save even more on small business travel. You can save a lot of money by booking flights during slow travel times. The best weeks and days to fly are usually in the middle of the week and during seasons that are not popular with leisure travelers. You can also use sites like Skyscanner to find cheap flights and compare rates on various days and from various destinations. Flights with transfers sometimes also come at low prices.
Does it matter what day of the week you book a flight?
There are many factors that can impact flight prices, including what day of the week you book. Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings are the cheapest days for some airlines, since they sometimes release deals on those days. However, weekends also sometimes offer deals, since fewer people book then. Other factors like the time you book and days you choose to fly can impact pricing as well.
When are flights cheapest?
The cheapest days to fly are usually those that are least popular with other travelers. Mid-week flights on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are often the best days of the week for flight deals. And choosing the right week to fly, like between Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of on those holiday weeks, can help you book flights affordably as well.
Do flight prices go down on Sunday?
Flight prices do not necessarily decrease on Sundays. In fact, many airlines adjust fares based on seats sold and pricing from competitors on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, this also means that prices can go up on these days. So Sunday can be one of the best days of the week to book flights if you expect the price might go up.
Is it cheaper to fly on Sunday or Monday?
Sunday and Monday are generally not the cheapest days to fly – you can often find better deals mid-week. However, Sundays are often cheaper than Mondays, since many travelers book weeklong trips starting on Monday. For example, a flight from San Francisco to New York costs $148 on Sunday and $178 on Monday. However, if your destination is nearby and popular for weekend getaways, Monday may be cheaper. Check your preferred travel site to compare prices on both days for your specific route.