Save cash when booking flights
New research has revealed the optimum time to book airline tickets – handy information for the many expats in the region. So here’s the magic number…
August 23, 2010 12:52 by shafeer
According to the UK’s Guardian, an economist has calculated the optimum time to book an airline ticket. It’s surely good news for expatriates, who – if they’re anything like Kipp – regularly find themselves eying airline websites, trying to time the best deals. And it’s good news for the more conscientious business traveler that wants to save as much cash for the business as possible, or the boss who wants to optimize employee travel.
So what’s the magic answer? Eight weeks, according to Makoto Watanabe. You should book your travel eight weeks before you plan to fly. Also, his findings suggest that flights are cheaper when purchased in the afternoon rather than the morning. Watanabe speculates that this is because airlines expect business travelers to book their tickets for travel from work in the morning on the company account, while leisure travelers (more likely to be seeking low prices) are likely to book from home in the afternoon or at work after the daily workload is done.
Watanabe and his colleague Marc Möller write in the Economic Journal: “When we book our flight to London weeks ahead we have to account for the possibility of unforeseen events which make our trip to London impossible. In order to make consumers take their chances, airlines have to offer advance purchase discounts. As a consequence, ticket prices increase as the travel date approaches.”
The common wisdom is that it is often possible to get a cheap last minute flight, but it seems the research contradicts this. It may work for theatre tickets in London, but not for aeroplanes. “The purchase of airline and theatre tickets are both examples where individual demand uncertainty and rationing risks interfere. However, there is empirical evidence which shows that airline ticket prices typically increase over time while theatre tickets are often sold at a discount on the day.”
So now you know. Eight weeks early, in the afternoon. Do you think this research is accurate? Do you have any other tricks or tips for the expat traveler? If so, let us know.