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 travelers encounter unpredictable flight prices, delays and cancellations. Thankfully, Expedia has released its 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report, providing six proven tips to help save travelers time and money.
The main takeaway? 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 around May and June 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 period.1 While overall capacity (airplane seats available for a given route) has been increasing over the course of the year, it still sits below 2019 levels as airlines work to fully restore operations to pre-pandemic levels.2
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%3
Travelers who book on Sundays instead of Fridays tend to save, on average, around 15% on domestic flights and 10% on international flights.
Book at least two months before domestic flights to save 40%4
The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls around 71 days before departure (so about 2 months in advance of travel). Travelers who booked during that period saved nearly 40% on average compared to those who waited until a month prior to departure.
For those who prefer to plan further in advance, avoid booking any earlier than 100 days out. Domestic airfares can actually be more expensive in the 4 to 5.5-months prior to departure.
Book 3 months before international flights to save 10%4
Travelers who booked around 3 months in advance of international travel saved 10% compared to those who waited until 2 months out or less to book.
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. 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 give travelers the most accurate predictions possible.
How to avoid flight disruptions
Depart before 3pm to reduce chance of cancellations5
Travelers who 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 40% higher chance, on average, than those that depart earlier in the day.
Data shows that avoiding the peak travel periods can have more benefits than just cost-savings. On average, flight delays were shorter during February and May 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 10% early in the year to around 4% in August. This 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 Friday to save up to 20%7
In general, travelers who started a trip on a Friday, versus the beginning of the week (a Sunday or a Monday), saved 20% on domestic flights. For international flights, travelers who departed on a Thursday instead of the beginning of the week (a Sunday or a Monday) saved 5%.
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 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 their next trip.*
- Earn air miles on top of Expedia points by entering mileage plan numbers at checkout. It’s an easy way to double-dip and rack up travel rewards even faster.
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1Price-development information is based is on average round-trip ticket prices 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.
2Capacity-trend information is based on number of flights and seats offered by airlines domestically and internationally, originating in Canada for January 2019 through December 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline dales database.
3 Best day of the week to book recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for January through August 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database.
4 Ideal booking window recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for January through August for 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database.
5 Most reliable time of day to travel recommendation is based on January through August 2022 flight-status data for flights originating in Canada, 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 Canada, 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 January through August for 2022, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database.
* Travel insurance and certain package bookings excluded. Rewards terms apply. See site for details.