/ Travel & Leisure

Do you carefully book the cheapest day to fly?

Do you, like me, organise your holiday’s abroad around when it’s cheapest to fly? Well, we’ve found that there really are trends for the cheapest days to go away. And let’s just say it’s not over the weekend…

Having scrimped and saved over my student years to go travelling during uni holidays, I became quite the ‘pro’ at researching a whole variety of flight combinations to get the furthest away for as little money as possible.

So, yes, I’ve spent many a night camped out in Singapore airport to catch that 4:30am flight. Don’t get me wrong, during such lonely, painful experiences I have often sat tutting to myself; ‘was it really worth saving £20?’

Good news for early risers

But, happily for me, our research has confirmed that I’m not simply pedantic (well, maybe a little) about flying at the most inconvenient times.

We tracked 1,174 flights in September, offered by three of the biggest UK airlines (British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair) and found that depending on who you booked with there are cheaper times of the day to fly. And usually these are early in the morning or late in the evening.

To give an example, 86% of British Airways’ cheapest outbound flights – flying to Barcelona in September – were before 7:30am; flights before this time could be over a half cheaper than flights at other times of day. However, it’s a different story for EasyJet, where its most expensive outbound flights were in the morning, and the most expensive return flights were in the afternoon. EasyJet’s cheapest inbound flights were in the evening.

Being tactical about what day of the week to fly is also key for cheap-flight-hunters, like me. As might be expected, we found that these three airlines offered their cheapest inbound and outbound flights mid-week, with Tuesday being the cheapest day to fly overall. And Sunday was, on average, the most expensive day to return home.

So, taking two lovely half-weeks at work looks to be the way forward for any prospective holiday-goers out there…

No pain no gain?

It looks like I can continue to justifiably drag my boyfriend out of bed to fly at ‘uncivilised’ times, in order to save some cash for cocktails on the beach.

But what do you think? Is a rubbish night’s sleep worth catching that cheaper flight? Or would you rather pay extra to enjoy a less painful journey?


Rebecca hasn’t thought this through. Getting a taxi to/from an airport between midnight and early morning is always more expensive, and waiting for hours after you have been kicked out of your room before you can get your flight home is really not joyful, quite wearing in fact, and you might well have to pay for food and drink whilst you wait. Cheap is not usually cheerful.

Thunderer says:
1 September 2012

Hear. Hear. The so-called early risers departures require you to be up all night.!

If an early flight is going to mean an overnight stay in a hotel before hand it can be cheaper and more relaxing to take a late flight the day before and an extra night in a hotel abroad.

Flying back – late flights may give you an extra half-day in the resort but you never seem to be able to relax and use it.

Fletchaman says:
29 August 2012

What about Long Haul flights whens best to buy them?

Fariety says:
3 December 2012

I’ve just booked a cheap long haul flight to Australasia which was released about 16 days in advance of the flight – it hadn’t been online 2 days previously. Not the first time I’ve been lucky. I was told airlines may do this if they want to sell more economy seats to fill a flight. It’s a risky practice if you really need to travel, this is usually how the airlines make money. And yes, if you tick the box “see fares 3 days either side” you can often save money. Check out the routes, number of stopovers and stopover times; they can add hours to a trip, but you may pay less. I found that websites advertising cheap flights but which have a phone number usually don’t have them!. If the flight is available it will be visible.

Jezz says:
30 August 2012

Thanks for this info… i find wading through prices and flight options an anathema! The most annoying part of cheap flights is they say they are taking you to Milan for eg and only to discover you are 100km in some city that is only related to the destination you wanted because it shares the same international dialing code!!! (and that is not even true when you fly to Vienna and they take you to another country!). More transparency would be appreciated.

Brian Kidd says:
3 September 2012

Rebecca. Very interesting info regarding variable flight costs. As I understand with Easy Jet ,the most expensive time to fly is outward mornings,and inward afternoons. The cheapest inbound is in the evening.What about the cheapest out bound?

Thank you . Brian Kidd. Deal.Kent