Is flying on a Tuesday cheaper? Testing 3 TikTok flight hacks

(NEXSTAR) – With air travel projected to spike in 2024 and spring break around the corner, you may have noticed some travel booking “secrets” hitting your social feeds.

On TikTok, flying channels with suggested filters like “Cheap Flight Hacks” and “Traveling Tips & Hacks” have hundreds of millions of views. But are those booking tips legit?

Are flights cheaper if you book on a certain day?

“Supposedly Tuesday is the cheapest day to book flights” one TikTok video says. “We have definitely found this to be true when looking at the same flights on a Friday or Saturday or even a Monday.”

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy, according to Jake Bouvrie, chief economist with travel search engine Kayak.com.

“Flight pricing is dynamic and highly dependent on route so there is really no magic date or time,” Bouvrie said.

Google Flights experts agree.

“If you shop for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays instead of Saturdays or Sundays, prices have only been 1.9% cheaper on average over the past five years,” according to a blog post by James Byers, group product manager with Google Flights. “So if your trip is just a couple of weeks away, don’t wait for Tuesday to roll around — book your flight now in case the price goes up.”

Both Kayak and Google offer tools that you can use to see the historically cheapest times to book a certain flight.

Does the day you fly matter?

“Always book your flights for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, these are usually the cheapest days to book your flights,” another TikTok video with over 128,000 views says.

Bouvrie says Kayak data has shown that certain departure days are cheaper, but they aren’t the ones mentioned above.

A recent study of Kayak round-trip flights departing from the U.S. found that, on average, Thursdays and Fridays were the cheapest days to fly.

“Prices can be about 14% lower versus flying on the two most expensive days (Sunday and Monday),” Bouvrie said.

An analysis run by Google Flights last summer found a different pattern, although both agree on one thing: don’t fly on Sunday.

“Historically, it’s been cheaper to fly in the middle of the week than on the weekend — especially Sundays,” according to Google. “On average, flights that depart on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday have been 12% cheaper than weekend departures. If you exclude international destinations, the potential savings jump even higher to 20%.”

Will repeated online searches drive up the price?

Another piece of advice that pops up on TikTok is to use an internet browsing mode like Chrome’s incognito that wipes the search history, cookies and other data from one’s device.

“Always use Incognito mode when looking for tickets, flight booking websites track your activity and if you check certain tickets often they increase prices because they know you’re going to buy them,” one TikTok hack dispenser advised.

A Google spokesperson told Nexstar that browsing in incognito mode or switching devices won’t have any impact on the prices for individual flights that show up on Google Flights.

“First, we rely on third parties like airlines and other booking sites for all of the prices we display,” the spokesperson said. “Google isn’t making any decisions about how much to charge for a flight.”

So why do prices sometimes change while shopping for a flight?

Google says ticket prices are constantly changing and being updated by data providers – sometimes by the second – and those price fluctuations show up in the billions of potential ticket combinations that users see when refreshing a search or switching devices.

“We suspect this could also be the basis of the common misconception that using your browser’s incognito mode will unlock lower prices on Google Flights,” the spokesperson added. “Unfortunately for deal-seekers, it’s not true: the prices we show at any given moment are the same for everyone in a particular country, regardless of whether you’re browsing on incognito mode.”

If Google Flights shows a different price than the airline’s own website, it may be because Google also displays prices from online travel agencies that might differ, or the price has yet to update.

“We work hard to minimize these occurrences, so we refresh our pricing data as often as we can and hold ourselves to an extremely high standard for price accuracy,” the spokesperson said.

A Kayak spokesperson also confirmed to Nexstar that they do not raise prices in that way.

Scott Keyes, founder and chief flight expert of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel and Leisure that flight prices are volatile and any changes you may notice are pure coincidence.

“If this was true, the Flight Experts at Scott’s Cheap Flights would have a much harder time finding deals,” Keyes told the travel site in a statement. “We run thousands of searches every day, day after day. If prices were rising based on those previous searches, we’d see it.”

Travel

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