Expedia and ARC bust the “last minute myth” and the truth about airfare savings in 2018


Expedia and ARC have released the findings of the fourth annual ARC Air Travel Outlook Report, a significant collaboration between two leaders in air travel. The report also features commentary from Egencia, the corporate travel company of Expedia, on the business travel aspect of the findings. 

Expedia and ARC experts analysed flight data, drawing on billions of data points for domestic and international air travel globally to identify patterns travellers can use to find airfare savings in 2018. The report (download in full here) reveals how travellers can gain real value for money by being strategic about not only when they book a flight, but when they start their journey. It also reveals trends savvy leisure and corporate travellers can use to pay less for seats in the “pointy end” of a plane.


Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of data science and research, stated: “It’s well understood that consumers who possess relevant information in tune with their personal preferences before they shop, will be more confident and likely to make a final purchase. With our continued strong relationship with Expedia, including Egencia, ARC is able to provide these broad-based insights on travel around the world – both leisure and corporate – that supports the continued growth of air travel and the travel industry as a whole. The ability to see what is changing and provide actionable data and insights to ARC’s customers and travellers worldwide is core to ARC’s analytical capabilities.”

While there are nuances by market, there are also some universal air travel pricing trends.

Busting the “last minute” myth

Despite popular belief in the benefits of last-minute booking, in most parts of the world, economy fares tend to increase as departure date gets closer.


Best booking lead time for a bargain

Booking a flight more than 30 days ahead of departure is when travellers are most likely to find the lowest Average Ticket Prices (ATPs) for economy and premium cabin air travel.

“Expedia is constantly looking for ways to improve the experience of booking travel. Finding patterns in data is at the core of what we do. Our algorithms use data science to analyze approximately 19 quadrillion potential flight itineraries and filter them to display the most relevant options for each journey,” said Greg Schulze, Senior Vice President, Expedia. “When it comes to saving on flights, booking early, and taking advantage of the other unique ways to save on Expedia, will help people go places for less.”

Best day to book for a bargain

For most international and domestic economy flights, cheapest fares are booked on a Sunday/most expensive are booked on a Friday.

For Premium fares, Saturdays and Sundays are the best bargain booking days.


Best day to start a journey?

Expedia/ARC’s tip for 2018: No matter where you’re headed, start your journey on a Friday.

The cheapest days-of-week to start an international air journey in the economy cabin are Thursdays and Fridays.

For US domestic economy flights, travellers paid lowest ATPs when they started their journey on a Friday.

The cheapest days-of-week to start an international air journey in the premium cabin are Fridays and Saturdays.

“Business travel may typically take place during the week, but starting the trip on the weekend may help companies save on premium seats. This can turn a business trip to a “bleisure” (business/leisure) trip, improving traveler satisfaction and helping companies with their bottom line,” said Tristan Smith, Vice President of Global Transport Supply, Egencia.


What months offer the best fares?

Expedia and ARC experts compared ATPs paid for flights during a calendar month of flight departures and found:

For US travellers:December had highest economy international ATPs/February had lowest; June had highest economy domestic ATPs/September had lowest. October had highest premium international ATPs/December had lowest. June had highest premium domestic ATPs/August had lowest.

For UK economy international travellers, December had highest ATPs/ May had lowest.

In Asia, premium fares were highest mid-year (between April and September)

Download the full report here

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