ARC: Lowest Air Tickets Purchased Six Weeks Before Flight

Airline passengers acquired the least expensive airfares six weeks in advance of their flights, ARC reports based on research into the purchase price of airline tickets in 2011. At that point during any given 120-day advance purchase period throughout 2011, flyers paid 5.8 percent below the year’s average fare of $358.30, ARC said.

ARC determined this by examining close to $80 billion worth of ticket sales, spread across almost 144 million transactions, for flights with a U.S. origin and destination.

“Many people have long thought that the further out from your flight that you buy an airline ticket, the less expensive it will be. Our data indicates that this isn’t necessarily true,” said Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics at ARC.

“Although low fares are available over the 120-day cycles in 2011 that we analyzed, the vast majority of tickets costing below the average fare were purchased about six weeks before the flight date.

“We’re not advising people to purchase tickets only at this time during the cycle as there is no guarantee they will receive the lowest price of the year; it is just what the data indicates and we have seen this pattern over the last four years," Thackston said.

ARC's analysis of ticket sales are based on on $82 billion worth of ticket sales across 144 million transactions from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, by U.S. retail and corporate travel agencies, online travel agencies and satellite ticket printing offices.

ARC notes that its analysis of flight origin and destination are within the United States and that it does not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines. Total sales are equal to the total amount paid for a ticket which includes taxes and fees.

ARC’s Data and Analytics Division provides data, and analytical services for customers,  including information about airline ticket transactions. 


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