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When You Should Book: Expedia Highlights 2015 Airline Pricing Trends

By / Dec 10, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In a new study the travel-booking company says that, in general, consumers should expect lower airfares next year. So when should you purchase tickets? Long story short: The day of the week isn’t as big of a deal as the kind of trip you’re taking.

If you’re flying in the next 12 months—and if you work in an association, the odds of travel are close to even—you may want to get the details on this new study.

On Tuesday, Expedia released a white paper, “Preparing for Takeoff: Air Travel Trends 2015,” created with the help of the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), that notes the pricing trends that will affect the way we fly in the new year. Among the highlights:

Higher demand, higher capacity, lower fuel costs: While two factors that play a key role in pricing—supply and demand—are essentially canceling each other out, the decreasing cost of oil could help airlines cut prices over the next year. “Lower fuel prices translate into lower operating costs for airlines, and, sometimes, air carriers pass along these savings to travelers in the form of lower air-ticket prices,” the white paper states [PDF]. “This correlation is neither universal nor consistent, but lower oil costs do allow airlines to be more aggressive with pricing and still maintain profitability.”

Market factors at play. In Europe the rise of low-cost airlines are having the effect of driving down overall ticket prices, partly by unbundling some fares. U.S. low-cost carriers, such as Frontier and Spirit, are expanding significantly in North America. And in Texas, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, which limited airlines flying out of Dallas’ Love Field airport to destinations within Texas or in nearby states, is expected to greatly boost air capacity in the region.

Buy on Tuesdays, but … Conventional wisdom has suggested that you should buy your plane tickets on Tuesdays—and the study emphasizes that holds clear, albeit barely. “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,” Expedia’s Sarah Gavin says on the company’s Viewfinder travel blog. That said, the kind of tickets matter more than the date. Gavin notes that, “travelers who are able to leave on Thursday and return on Monday will enjoy the greatest savings on average.” And book as soon as you can—the report states that travelers staying within North America will save between $195 and $225 on trips they book more than three weeks in advance.

Gavin also recommends that travelers opt for package deals over booking a hotel and flight separately, as this can save hundreds of dollars.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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