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The 2 Cheapest Days of the Week to Fly

Be flexible with your flight itinerary and you could save a lot of cash. Here’s how.

Be a little flexible with your flight itinerary and you could save some cash; that’s because some days are the cheapest days to fly. More specifically, there are two days that are cheapest for air passengers. Those days are likely to yield the best rates for departures and arrivals. But remember: This isn’t an exact science.

Cheapest Days to Fly

The universal consensus seems to be that airfares tend to be lowest for flights that depart on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That’s what George Hobica of our sister site Airfarewatchdog says, along with CheapAir. Some sources, including Fodor’s, add Thursday, and others, including our own Josh Roberts and FareCompare, add Saturday.

Expedia’s 2015 Travel Trends White Paper posts the most comprehensive analysis of the “when to fly” question. Expedia concludes that, for long-haul flights, leaving on Thursday and returning on Monday costs around 20 percent less than leaving on Friday and returning on Saturday. The lowest in-and-out combinations tend to include outbound flights on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday with return flights on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. For short-haul trips, Expedia’s lowest-fare groupings are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday both ways.

Related: 101 Clever Travel Tricks You Need to Try

Cheapest Time to Fly

Does time of day matter? Oddly enough, you find very little data on this question. Overall, afternoons are the “rush hour” for flying, so you find fewer good airfares on afternoon flights. On some short-haul routes, early mornings are also rush hour, as business travelers start their quick in-and-out single-day trips. Still, others say the dinner hour is a good time to fly.

On domestic routes, fares for overnight red-eye flights are often lower than for daytime flights—but you have to put up with the miseries of sitting up all night in a tiny economy seat.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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