– Book early to get the best price if travelling on a popular flight.
– For less popular flights, leave it until the last minute to get the best price.
If you have ever searched for plane tickets online you will have noticed that the price of tickets change constantly.
One day the tickets will be one price, only for them to be cheaper or more expensive the next time you search.
This is because airlines and price comparison sites use something called Dynamic Pricing to manage revenue and ticket sales.
Dynamic Pricing enables airlines to maximise revenue to each available seat.
The same thing is used in the hotel industry to manage the sales of hotel rooms, where prices can fluctuate by as much as 60 percent on any given day.
When booking flights online there are many theories as to when the best time to book a flight is.
Some say book as early as possible to get the best price, while others say leave it until last minute.
Some people, in their heads at least, aim for the sweet spot of just somewhere in between that they think will give them the most cost effective price.
Rather than relying on random guesswork or theories posted on internet forums, researchers have studied the various techniques used throughout the travel industry to find out if their is an optimal time to ensure you get the cheapest possible price when booking plane tickets online.
Professor Claudio Piga from Keele University has studied the dynamic pricing methods used by two low budget airlines: RyanAir and easyjet. Although similar pricing methods are used by almost all airlines.
The study found that prices for tickets usually increase as the plane fills up.
This suggests that for popular routes, you need to book early in order to bag yourself the best deal, as the lower price will be shown first but will then increase as the number of bookings increase and the flight becomes more popular. This means that only higher fares are shown to people who leave it until the last minute to book.
Meanwhile, the researchers also discovered that on less popular flights and where ticket sales have been less than expected, the prices of seats becomes cheaper the closer to flight time.
Another study carried out in the United States by CheapAir.com also found that the early bird catches the worm when it comes to booking flights online.
CheapAir’s comprehensive study reviewed more than 350 million airfares from the United States to 3,000 other markets to find out the best time to book.
The study found that for domestic flights, the best time to book was around 3.5 months in advance.
For international flights, 2 months in advance was best, while the prime time for booking flights to Asia was around 90 days in advance.
Last year, flight comparison site Skyscanner claimed the best time to book flights to Thailand was about 20 weeks in advance.