1. Book flights at least three weeks ahead of travel.
2. Book flights on a weekend.
3. Book hotels on a Friday night.
4. Start the journey on a Thursday or Friday.
5. Extend short, weekday-only trips to include a Saturday night.
This article includes an excerpt of a report by Airline Reporting Corporation. Thomas is the CEO of TripConcierge.co a leading west coast travel agency.
Book Flights at Least Three Weeks Ahead of Departure
From most parts of the world — regardless of destination — average ticket prices (ATPs) for economy and premium cabins tend to rise as the departure date gets closer. Waiting to book at the last minute can be an expensive gamble. Booking three weeks ahead of a trip is the “sweet spot” for fare savings.
Book Flights on a Weekend
Economy and premium cabin ATPs tend to be lower when booked on a weekend, usually on a Sunday. (New Zealand is one exception, where Tuesday is usually the least expensive day to book air travel.) Many people save up to 20%, and some can save as much as 36% by booking on a Sunday. The most expensive tickets tend to be booked on Thursdays and Fridays.
Book Hotel Stays on a Friday
Drawing from Expedia Group’s inventory of more than 895,000 properties offered, data analysts compared the average daily rates (ADR) across different reservation days. Results reveal travelers generally find lowest ADRs on Fridays. Unlike airfares, the most expensive day to book a hotel is generally on a Sunday.
Start your Journey on a Thursday or Friday
Global trends show ATPs for most economy and premium cabin travel are lowest for flights departing on a Thursday or Friday. Travelers can save around 10% on airfares simply by choosing flights that take off on Thursday or Friday. Cost-conscious travelers should avoid starting their journey on a Sunday, as those trips generally have the highest ATP.
Extend Short, Weekday Trips to Include a Saturday Night Stay
For almost 75% of the weekday-only trips analyzed, the cost of economy class airfares dropped when the trip was extended to include a Saturday night. By extending weekday travel (Monday-Friday) to include a Saturday night in-destination, travelers can save around 25% of the weekday-only return fare. In other words, stay a bit longer in destination and you’ll probably save money on the total cost of the flights. For some popular corporate travel destinations, where weekday travel is in high demand, the data shows return-airfare costs can be almost halved if travelers add a Saturday stay to a weekday trip. The London-New York City route is one example.
Taking the Guesswork out of Flight Decisions
Deciding on the right flight can be time-consuming and complex. Research reveals people can make up to 50 searches online before deciding on which flight to book. To help travelers search and book with more confidence, ARC present additional findings to ease the search experience.
Weighing the Benefits of Non-Stop Flights
Comparing the cost of non-stop, one-stop and two-stop journeys between a range of popular destinations revealed value is in the eye of the beholder. For many, a stretch or the chance for a stopover may be valued more than the cost. For others, the convenience of non-stop travel wins out.
Don’t assume direct flights will cost more than those with stops. This is only true in some cases. Direct flights may actually cost less than flights with stops for a wide range of reasons, including newly added routes, low-travel season or travel to predominantly business-travel destinations over a weekend.
Consider savings on the total costs of a trip: Travelers can unlock discounts on the total cost of a trip when they bundle flights and hotel stays, and in some cases with other travel products and experiences. For example, adding a flight to an existing hotel booking through TripConcierge.co can result in hotel savings of up to 43%.
Deciding Between Basic Economy and Other Economy Cabin Fares
Travelers can face a conundrum when weighing their unique travel needs against the many available fare options. The best choice of fare type comes down to more than price — it will depend on the underlying motivator that is most important to the individual: cost, flexibility, or comfort.
While travelers may save money by booking a basic economy fare (i.e., a fare with seat-only, no bag and potentially other limitations), it pays to choose carefully. If bags are added to a basic economy fare, the total cost of travel almost always exceeds that of other economy fares (i.e., where checked bags are included in the cost of the ticket).
Air Ticket Prices Don’t Change When Oil Prices Fluctuate
Analysts compared ATPs and commodity pricing trends over five years to investigate short term impacts of oil/jet fuel pricing changes on economy cabin airfares.
When oil and/or airline fuel prices jump, travelers need not delay booking a trip based on the assumption that airfares will immediately rise. Comparing the price of commodities (i.e. oil/jet fuel) and ATP trends over many years show the days and weeks after an oil price jump may actually be the most cost-effective window to book flights, as any effect that fluctuation may have on ATPs is more likely to appear over a longer time period. This is due to a range of reasons, including when airlines purchase their fuel as well as their common ability to negotiate or set standard rates for fuel purchases over time.
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