Deal Breakdown- Airplane Ticket Timing

A = gUG + min(k – g, (1 – g)(1 – r))

I know you might be having flashbacks to some horrible math class (for me it’s Calculus class) and are secretly hoping you don’t get called on (don’t worry, you won’t) but that formula right there is something you should love. Someone somewhere, specifically economist Makoto Watanabe, has done the work for you.

What that formula determines is how early you should buy your airplane tickets. His answer? 8 weeks. His numbers factor in early booking discounts and late booking penalties and finds that happy number in the middle. From The Observer,

A 2001 study of flight tickets for 12 different US routes showed that postponing a ticket purchase by just one day raised the price by around 0.1% of the average fare. A 2004 study of flights from Nice airport showed that the average price of a flight increases by 12.7% within the last 22 days prior to departure.

With this kind of booking urgency, I decided to test some things myself. I’ve plotted out a week long trip for a single passenger traveling nonstop from JFK in New York to LAX in Los Angeles.

American* Delta United Jet Blue
1 day $466 $670 $680 $804
1 week $251 $396 $608 $549
2 weeks $183 $358 $420 $574
8 weeks $179 $358 $409 $358
12 weeks $287 $430 $451 $478

Sure enough, for all four test airlines the 8 week mark appears to be the best time to book. Delta appears to allow you to book just two weeks in advance for a similar rate but so far they’re the only exception. I should note that the 12 week mark takes place with the Thanksgiving holiday nearby. Note: American Airlines rates will differ from the other airlines as the one-way trip was functioning better than the round-trip rate during this experiment. Always compare rates on your own to ensure the best savings.

Since this experiment has simply been testing from today’s date, I realize that I’m going to have to test some more. Sure, it’s cheaper now for me to book for a trip in November than for a trip tomorrow but when will my November trip be the best deal? Watch for updates on this one over the next few months as I plan a fake trip from JFK to NYC.

All this math go over your head? Economists say booking a trip 8 weeks out will save you the most cash. Keep following TravelHyper as we keep tabs on prices and let you know the best way to save.

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I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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