When is the “Best” Day to Travel?
One of the best perks of having elite status on an airline is being upgraded to First Class. Thus, one way I like to maximize my travel experience is, if my schedule allows, is to choose to fly on dates that will get me the best chance at an upgrade –i.e. the least busy days possible.
Based on my own experience, the worst days to fly are Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday—in that order.
Sundays are particularly awful because leisure travelers tend to transit on this day in order to maximize their vacation time, and business travels do so in order to hit the ground running on Monday morning.
Friday is a busy time for travel for the opposite reasons—vacationers departing and business travels returning to their families, but in my experience Thursdays can be just as bad. I have encountered quite a few road warriors who work away from home during the week, then return for the weekends. Case in point, as a Gold Medallion on Delta the only times I have seldom had trouble being upgraded for flights on Regional Jets, that is except for Thursdays.
Mondays can also be bad, depending on the route. While generally Monday upgrade chances are slim on larger flights, I have never been more surprised to receive an upgrade at the Gold Medallion window (typically about 4 days out) than I did on my trip to Tampa, on a mid-morning flight to New York-LaGuardia.
And I do suppose what you qualify as “best” may make a difference. If you are looking for a bump, that is volunteering your seat on an overbooked flight in exchange for compensation, than perhaps a Sunday flight is a good one to choose.
So what are “good” days for getting upgraded?
I’d say the following screenshot, taken within 12 hours of this flights departure from LAX to Atlanta, is worth a thousand words:
Even though Delta holds off on upgrading elites on longer routes like Los Angeles to Atlanta and Los Angeles to New York Delta until time of departure, these seats can be upgraded using miles or purchased outright, so the fact that only 2 seats are taken is still astonishing. In other words, if you can afford to, Saturdays are pretty good and quiet days to travel.
My favorite day to travel however is Wednesday. Availability may not be quite, the same, but how is what I found for the same flight departing from LAX four days later:
In fact, when traveling I like having my weekends free and therefore prefer to fly on a Wednesday rather than on a Saturday.
Anyway, despite the results of this case study, I think Wednesday is a slightly better day to fly due limited business and leisure travel at this time. Because of this strategy, I am 3 for 3 this year on being upgraded between two of Delta’s major hubs—Salt Lake and Los Angeles, and even between Minneapolis and Detroit.
Finally, even though I have hardly transited then, I have found Tuesday to also be a great day for travel, having even been upgraded between LaGuardia and Atlanta. Maybe not quite as good as flying on Wednesday or Saturday, but still I pretty peaceful day to fly.
Thus, I think the best days to travel are Wednesday, Sunday, and Tuesday in that order.
WHAT ABOUT CHEAP DAYS TO FLY?
I haven’t researched cheapdays to fly as much, but Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com has analyzed countless airfare numbers and asserts these are at least cheapest days to flyas well.
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