— -- Your employer can rest easy knowing that if you're spending work hours shopping for airfare, at least you won't likely get a deal while doing it. At least not compared to if you had taken some time out of your weekend to search.
A study released this week from the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) found that Sunday -- not Tuesday, as is the commonly-held belief -- is the least expensive day to purchase airfare. Saturday is also preferable to Tuesday when it comes to cheaper prices.
And it's not chump change: The average fare paid on a Sunday, the least expensive day, is $71 cheaper than that paid on a Monday, the most expensive day. The average price paid for a domestic flight on a Sunday is $432 compared to $503 on a Monday.
The study examined all airline tickets sold by U.S.-based travel agents and settled by ARC between January 2013 and July 2014 -- nearly 130 million in all. ARC is a technology company providing transaction settlement and data information services. The analysis is based on full ticket price (including fares, taxes and fees) to reflect the amount travelers actually pay for air travel and does not include baggage fees, seat charges or other fees collected by the airlines separate from the original ticket purchase.
Tuesday shoppers can take comfort in the knowledge that day is still the cheapest of the weekdays to buy airfare.
"Tuesday was considered hot because airlines used to announce their new fare schedules and promotions on a Monday," said Gabriel Shaoolian, digital trends expert and CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a company that services the web sites of some of the airline industry's major players. "On Tuesday, there was some competitive price-matching as the market adjusted to the latest incentives, so that was seen as the time to jump in."
But Shaoolian points out business travelers, a big chunk of the travel market, aren't generally shopping for airfare on Sundays. "Seats that haven’t sold earlier in the week to business travel agents are generally put on sale to attract leisure travelers, those who have time on the weekends to go online to all of the travel websites and research fares, stimulated by Sunday newspaper travel sections and, facing another work week, the desire to make a recreation getaway happen.
"Airlines are wise to this and provide the attractive fare accordingly – before announcing new fare schemes for the next set of business buyers on Monday," Shoolian said.
Sundays are likely to offer the cheapest tickets for both domestic and international travel. The lowest ticket prices for domestic travel were seen at 57 days prior to departure and 171 days for international trips.
A Texas A&M study released earlier this year also found weekends were the time travelers were most likely to find deals. That study showed ticket prices were 5 percent lower on the weekends than on weekdays.