Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report: U.S. travelers can save on airfare by booking and traveling on this day to avoid flight delays
As we head into the holidays and a brand-new year, many travelers have already expanded their travel plans and aspirations. But, if we’ve learned anything from 2022, traveling isn’t always so simple, as we encountered unpredictable flight prices, delays and cancellations. Thankfully, Expedia has released its 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report, providing data-backed tips to help save travelers time and money.
The main takeaway? Plan wisely by taking advantage of price alerts, as timing is KEY when it comes to hacking air travel.
Air travel is on the runway to recovery
Average ticket prices began to surpass 2019 levels in March and April this year, driven by the rebound in demand and lowering of travel restrictions. After peaking during the summer months, airfare prices dropped again for fall and are expected to rise again for the busy holiday period1. While overall capacity (airplane seats and flights available for a given route) has increased over the course of the year, according the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) and OAG’s global flight data platform, it still sits below 2019 levels as airlines work to fully restore operations to pre-pandemic levels2.
From when to book to maximizing loyalty perks, here’s Expedia’s guide to hacking travel in 2023.
When to book
Book on a Sunday to save up to 15% on average3 Travelers who book on Sundays instead of Fridays tend to save, on average, around 5% on domestic flights and 15% on international flights. While the best day of the week to book has been Sunday for the past four years, travelers saved 5% more on average in 2022 compared to 2021.
Book at least a month before domestic flights to save 10% on average4 The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls between 28 – 35 days before departure – so about a month in advance of travel. Travelers that booked during that period saved 10% on average compared to those who waited until the last minute (0 – 2 weeks out).
For those who prefer to plan further in advance, booking domestic airfares any earlier than 113 days out has historically been more expensive, but may ensure you get your preferred flights. Domestic airfares have been more expensive in the 3.5 – 6 months before departure, so try not to book early.
Book 6 months before international flights to save 10% on average4 Travelers that book around six months in advance of international travel saved 10% on average compared to those who waited until two months out or less to book.
Book with confidence using Price Tracking and Predictions on the Expedia app Last-minute flight deals are increasingly rare, so it’s smart to opt into price alerts on the Expedia app and get notified when fares are expected to be at their lowest – essentially taking the guesswork out of deciding when to book. Expedia’s Price Tracking and Predictions feature uses machine learning to identify patterns in historical data to forecast price changes, factoring in time of year, route details, trip length and more to help travelers pinpoint the best time to book.*
For even more peace of mind, take advantage of Expedia’s Price Drop Protection, an optional add-on that automatically refunds the difference if the price of the traveler’s purchased ticket decreases on Expedia prior to travel.
How to avoid flight disruptions
Depart before 3pm to reduce chance of cancellations5 Travelers that want the best chance for smooth travel should aim for early flights. Based on year-to-date flight status data, flights that depart after 3pm have the highest chance of being cancelled – a 50% higher chance, on average, than those that depart earlier in the day.
Travel off-peak6 Data shows that avoiding the peak travel periods can have more benefits than just cost-savings. Historically, flight delays were shorter during March and April compared to the busy summer months, dropping by about 40 minutes. As summer wound down, delays began to shorten again, making fall an appealing time for air travel.
Overall, airlines have steadily improved their services, with total cancellations dropping from more than 7% early in the year to around 3% in August. The trend is expected to continue in a positive direction for travelers, meaning 2023 should see a significantly reduced risk of flight disruptions.
When to travel
Depart on a Wednesday to save up to 15% on average7 In general, travelers who started a trip on a Wednesday, versus the beginning of the week (a Sunday or a Monday) saved, on average, 15% on domestic flights. For international flights, travelers who departed on a Wednesday instead of during the weekend (a Sunday or a Saturday) saved 10% on average.
How to save on every trip
When it just isn’t possible to follow every travel hack, there are still a few easy ways to knock hundreds of dollars off your next trip.
- Book your airfare, hotel and car hire at the same time on Expedia. Otherwise known as bundling, this can instantly unlock hundreds of dollars in savings.
- Sign up for loyalty and frequent flier programs or risk leaving money on the table. Expedia members earn Rewards points for every booking they make, which can be redeemed as dollars off on their next trip.**
- Earn air miles on top of Expedia points by entering your mileage plan number at checkout. It’s an easy way to double-dip and rack up travel rewards even faster.
1. Price development information is based on average round-trip ticket prices for flights originating in the US for January through August for 2022 and average round-trip ticket prices for January through December for 2019, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database. Percentages noted are averages.
2. Capacity trend information is based on number of flights and seats offered by airlines originating in the US for January 2019 through December 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline dales database and supported by OAG.
3. Best day of the week to book recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for flights originating in the US for January through August 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database. Percentages noted are averages.
4. Ideal booking window recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for flights originating in the US for January through August for 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database. Percentages noted are averages.
5. Most reliable time of day to travel recommendation is based on January through August 2022 flight-status data for flights originating in the US sourced from OAG’s global flight data platform. Percentages noted are averages.
6. Most reliable month to travel recommendation is based on January through August 2022 flight-status data for flights originating in the US sourced from OAG’s global flight data platform. Percentages noted are averages.
7. Best day of the week to depart recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for flights originating in the US for January through August for 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database. Percentages noted are averages.
* Price predictions are not a guarantee. Available to members on select routes.
** Travel insurance and certain package bookings excluded. Rewards terms apply. See site for details.
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