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The New Rules of Airfare

With the spring season in full swing and summer just around the corner, we're about to enter one of the busiest times for travel all year.


With more and more people hitting the skies, now seemed like the perfect time to revisit the most common "golden rules" about booking airfare. For the modern traveler, these rules are changing -- so read on for the new booking strategies you need to know (courtesy of Hopper)!


1. Non-stop vs. one-stop


Myth: Non-stops are always more expensive


Truth: On average, you can save 5% ($25 off the average spring ticket) by taking a one-stop flight, or an incremental 2% ($36 total) by going from a one-stop to a two-stop. However, there are an increasing number of non-stop flights available now that are cheaper -- one in every three queries, to be exact. These savings can typically be found in markets where low-cost competition is driving down prices overall.


2. Basic economy vs. economy


Myth: You’ll always save money by taking a basic economy flight


Truth: You can save an average of 5% ($25 off the average spring ticket) by taking basic economy vs. economy. However, you’ll need to anticipate paying extra for things like baggage, seat assignments, ancillaries, etc. Depending on what your flight needs are, you may end up paying less if you book economy.


3. Early bird vs. night owl


Myth: You have to take a redeye to get the cheapest fare of the day


Truth: Time of day doesn’t have a major impact on flight cost, but if you want to get marginal savings, you should consider flying between 4-8AM for an average of 2% ($10 off the average spring ticket) off your flight price. You save an average of 3% ($15) by taking a return flight in the morning compared to one late in the afternoon or evening.


4. Weekend vs. weeknight trips


Myth: Trips that include the weekend are always more expensive


Truth: With the exception of flights to the Caribbean (which has a 6% premium for Saturday night stays), all other destinations have a discount with a Saturday night stay. Want to get the most savings? Head to Europe -- the average discount is almost 40% ($206 off the average spring ticket) for including a Saturday night stay. Domestic flights and international flights to Canada, Oceania, Mexico, and Central America offer savings of less than 3% ($15).


5. Shopping on the weekends


Myth: You’ll find more flight deals if you shop on the weekend


Truth: You’re less likely to find a flight deal if you’re shopping at predictable times. It can be difficult to plan leisure trips during work hours so most people put it off until the weekend. However, we analyzed which days of the week Hopper detects the most deals and, therefore, sends a "buy now" notification to users.* There are significantly fewer deals available on the weekend for both domestic and international trips.