The key to discovering the cheapest day of the week for an international flight.
Often people ask what is the best day of the week to fly, or how to find the cheapest and avoid the most expensive day to fly domestically or internationally. Years of working as a specialist at the headquarters of the world’s best airline led me to one conclusion:
Commercial strategy, Revenue Management*, IT, and the Marketing area inside airlines are all integrated to excel at one particular skill: segmenting customers.
And this segmentation is essential to understand the best and worst days to fly, so keep reading and all the answers will pop up.
*-Revenue Management (or RM) is a set of tools that uses data and analytics to optimize product availability and price with the ultimate goal of maximizing revenue. In other words, is the scientific method for analyzing consumer behavior in relation to product offer and price.
And here is why this matter to you: Playing with their segmentation can help you save thousands of dollars on your next trip (as well as choosing a cheaper point of arrival, and in this other article I revealed the cheapest cities to fly to in Europe).
I’m talking about pricing disparities that represent close to 40% of the overall cost of a ticket.
The expected consumer behavior is the framework for how airlines define their business strategies. Many of the models work with an important concept called Willingness to Pay.
What is Willingness to Pay and How it Defines Flight Price
According to the HBS Business Insights, WTP, or “willingness to pay,” refers to the highest price a consumer is prepared to pay for a good or service. It can be a fixed monetary amount or, in some situations, a price range.
It’s crucial to remember that the desire to pay a specific price for a good or service isn’t constant. A customer’s willingness to pay might fluctuate depending on a variety of factors, internal or external.
Customers may be willing to pay more for goods or services when they have an urgent need. They might be more inclined to pay more when there is a real or perceived shortage in supply.
On the other hand, a customer’s willingness to pay for the product of company X may go down if a new competitor Y, with a stronger brand name, comes along or if they think X’s product or service is out of date.
How do airlines calculate WTP, and how YOU can use that to book flights?
(In this article, I already shared some tips I learned as an airline professional about how to save money on flight tickets, but in the next paragraphs you will discover a new one.)
Airlines spell out their business strategy in terms of how they expect customers to act. To profile and predict the behavior of consumers who purchase tickets, millions of dollars are invested in research.
Starting out fairly simply, all passengers are split into two groups: leisure or business. There are additional groups but their significance is secondary to those two mentioned
Who are these air travel segmented customers?
Leisure consumers are well-known: they prepare for their vacation in advance, are more price-conscious, and pay for their own tickets.
They are more elastic, meaning that price decreases can attract them.
On the other side, business travelers often don’t buy their own tickets, and they have relatively low price elasticity (meaning that a discount would not attract them so much as it attracts leisure travelers).
In the Western world*, Business travelers frequently take flights on Mondays and return before the weekend, particularly on Fridays. Sundays and Wednesdays are generally avoided by this segment.
*- I made this distinction because, in other parts of the world, the days of the week obey a different logic. Eg: in many Arabic countries, the weekend is Friday and Saturday, while Sunday is a normal working day.
Tuesday and Wednesday Are (In Average) The Cheapest Days to Fly
Therefore, in Western countries, airlines often charge less for tickets departing on Sundays and Wednesdays than on Fridays since there are fewer business travelers on those days.
However, there are several exceptions. Holidays and special events like football games or conferences might potentially drive up the cost of certain days that were supposed to be cheaper. The pricing trend is often consistent under typical conditions.
Conclusion — What Is the Best Day of the Week to Fly?
If you’re seeking a cheap flight, it’s essential to know the best times of the year and week to travel. Google Flights and other platforms can help travelers find the best deal.
Typically, the cheapest days to fly throughout the week are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Conversely, the busiest times to fly, like summer travel or days after a significant game, can be the most expensive.
If we assume that everything else will remain the same, the greatest way to cut costs and save money is to avoid traveling on Fridays.
On the other side, there is a strong tendency for prices to be significantly lower in the middle of the week.
So the best day of the week to fly (at least to fly cheaper) is Wednesday, while Tuesdays may also be relatively cheap.
For domestic flights, the rule is to book your flight months in advance. The best day to book flights domestically is often debated, but many find cheap flights by focusing on those cheapest days. International travel has its own set of rules, with the best time to fly internationally varying based on destination.
Business travel often peaks during specific times, making flights pricier. If you’re flexible, flying on cheaper days of the week or at off-peak travel times can save you money.
You can beat the day-of-the-week pricing segmentation if you do it this way.
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Levi Borba is the founder of The Expatriate Consultancy, creator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author. Some of the links of this article may be affiliate links, meaning that the author will have a commission for any transaction.