We hear from our customers all the time that booking air travel feels complicated. That’s not surprising given there are over 65 million options to choose from between Los Angeles to New York alone. With more than 5 billion flight searches on Expedia every year, we’ve got piles of big data to help us make heads or tails of these headwinds and tailwinds. We wanted to take all that big data and turn it into smart, actionable data for our travelers.
Stuff that can help you make better decisions before you buy.
In addition to our own data, Expedia regularly works with a variety of market research organizations to get a better sense of statistics from the air travel industry and understand what sort of prices, trends, and changes we can expect in the months ahead. Today, after spending months crunching all of this data in partnership with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), we unveiled a new report, Preparing for Takeoff: Air Travel Trends for 2015, and we’re excited to share it with the world.
In a nutshell, 2015 is a good year to be a traveler.
First, many air ticket prices likely will decrease. You read that right, people—a whole bunch of airplane tickets likely are going to get a lot cheaper in 2015. There are a bunch of reasons for this, but on the whole, an increase in demand will be met with more flights and a drop in fuel prices, which will cause general price drops across Europe and North America. Another factor, especially in Europe, is the rise of low-cost carriers, which “unbundle” amenities, and force the big-name carriers to do the same in order to compete.
Second, it will be cheaper to fly in premium cabins. Remember how George Jefferson couldn’t believe his fortune when he “moved on up” to that de-luxe apartment in the sky? We believe many travelers might experience the same sensation in 2015. The analysis we conducted leads us to believe that the gap in the fares to fly premium or coach continues to narrow, and ultimately could get to the point where premium-class tickets aren’t that much more expensive than tickets in coach. No, this isn’t going to be true for every flight across the board, but it certainly means it’s a good idea for you to check the price of first- and business-class before you book a coach-class ticket. You might be pleasantly surprised at how close the prices will be.
Next, Tuesdays remain the best days to find the best fares. Our research indicates that especially when you’re buying tickets more than 21 days in advance, Tuesdays still are the best day to find cheapest flights at purchase time. More important, travelers who are able to leave on Thursday and return on Monday will enjoy the greatest savings on average. Those opting for a long weekend can save up of roughly 25 percent on short-haul flights when booking a Saturday departure to Tuesday return over the more expensive Sunday departure and Monday return. Who can complain about making long weekends longer?
Also, it’s best to book at least seven weeks in advance. You’ve heard that saying about the early bird and the worm, right? Well our analysis also shows, based on data from ARC, that for domestic routes, the lowest-priced fares are typically found within 50 to 100 days of departure, while the lowest fares are found 57 days prior. For international routes, the lowest price fares are found farther in advance—between 150 and 225 days—while the lowest price found was 171 days prior to departure. I know sometimes it’s challenging to plan ahead, but our research indicates that doing so can leave you with more of your hard-earned cash.
Finally, package deals can save you serious cash. We’ve been trained since the 1980s to book our flight first, then do a bunch of research and book our hotel somewhere down the line. You’ve likely heard me say this before but honestly there’s really no bigger mistake in travel. Just like everyone knows that you get a better deal on your internet and cable when you bundle them together, the same principles apply in travel. By booking the flight you want and the hotel you want at the exact same time, you can save on average up to US$540 across all destinations. In big resort destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean or Hawaii, you can save up to US$1,100. That is serious cash—money you can either pocket (and use for holiday gifts or holiday sales!) or reinvest in your vacation in the form of activities.
There are lots of other nuggets in Preparing for Takeoff: Air Travel Trends for 2015. To dive deeper into our report, download a free PDF below (or just download the charts and graphs). When you’re ready to start planning and booking your trips, we look forward to helping you however we can.