BELLEVUE, WASH. - Expedia, Inc., in partnership with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), released the second annual report, Preparing for Takeoff: Air travel outlook for 2016, which analyzes global air travel data. Highlighting key trends for both consumers and air industry professionals, this report represents Expedia’s analysis of data powered by ARC as well as data from other credible industry sources.
Specifically, Preparing for Takeoff: Air travel outlook for 2016 found these key takeaways:
- Between October 2014 and October 2015, global air ticket prices declined on average about 8 percent versus the prior year. According to ARC data, the price of travel within Europe declined the most in that timeframe, making these routes among the best potential bargains for 2016.
- On the whole, the best time to purchase economy tickets in North America for travel within North America is approximately two months in advance.
- It is difficult to predict the best day of week to find the lowest ticket prices because airlines constantly are adjusting prices. In general, the weekend has become a likely time to achieve savings though the rule of thumb still stands: if there is a good airfare available within the traveler’s budget, buy it.
“It’s our pleasure to once again collaborate with Expedia on this important industry study,” said Chuck Thackston, managing director of enterprise information, Airlines Reporting Corporation. “Expedia, armed with ARC’s global ticketing data, provides unmatched knowledge about the state of air travel offering valuable insights for leisure and corporate travelers to use when booking flights. We look forward to continue to partner with Expedia in the future.”
Flight Prices to Expect in 2016
Fare changes in a previous year are often good indicators for the year to come and based on 2015 analysis, 2016 is expected to be another good year for travelers to save money as they take to the skies. Globally, with prices adjusted for exchange rates, Expedia’s analysis of ARC data found that economy air ticket prices declined roughly 8 percent year-over-year between October 2014 and October 2015, with the biggest drops in July and August of 2015. Intra-Europe flights declined the most, indicating that 2015 was a great year for air travelers in general and even better for those visiting Europe and booking flights between European countries.
For North American travelers, Expedia’s analysis of ARC data found more modest price drops for economy travel in North America – with an average decline of 5 percent on intra-North America flights during the first 10 months of 2015. Given these figures and further analysis, this trend is expected to continue for the first few months of 2016.
Looking at specific destinations for travelers to save in 2016, Intra-Europe travel has some of the lowest expected air ticket prices. For travelers hoping to plan a European vacation, there are opportunities to save when traveling around the continent. Of the routes studied, this chart outlines top destinations to which travelers can find the best deals:
Approximate Economy ATP
Another way travelers can save money is to book air at the same time as hotel and rental car in a package. This process, known as “bundling” delivers discounts across the board: Expedia data for the first nine months of 2015 shows customers saved an average of $226 based on actual bookings, but easily can expect to find deals that can save them up to $568 across different destinations. That number is even higher in resort destinations such as Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean where Expedia data indicates savings can be in the range of $800-$1,100.
When to Purchase Airline Tickets – Finding the Sweet Spot on the Calendar
After analyzing terabytes of flight data from more than 10 billion passenger flights to determine the biggest potential savings for tickets prices based on advanced purchase, Expedia and ARC determined that the best time to buy an economy ticket for travel within North America is roughly 57 days in advance, yielding a potential savings of about 10 percent versus the average fare. Optimal lead times for tickets from North America to international destinations are longer:
Optimal Booking Times
- North America to Europe: 176 days in advance, for savings of 11 percent
- North America to Caribbean: 77 days in advance, for savings of 5 percent
- North America to Asia-Pacific: 160 days in advance, for savings of 13 percent
- North America to the Middle East and Africa: 144 days in advance, for savings of 24 percent
- North America to South America: 90 days in advance, for savings of 10 percent
When to Purchase Airline Tickets – Is Tuesday Still the Best?
While advance purchase is a key aspect for determining when travelers should buy a ticket, it is not the only factor to consider. For years, travelers and industry experts have wondered which day yields the best savings. In previous reports, Expedia and ARC have suggested that Tuesday is the best day, by a small margin. Looking at 2016 and based upon 2015 data, Expedia and ARC found that on average, weekends provide an opportunity to find great deals, with Tuesday still close behind.
There are general caveats to consider when searching for the best flight deals. For example, most analyses will show low air ticket prices on weekend days because these are the days on which most leisure travelers purchase tickets. Business travel, on the other hand, is most often purchased during the week and has a higher air ticket price on average. Given this information, and accounting for a rapidly changing market for airline fares, Expedia and ARC advise that travelers who find a fare that looks like a great deal to purchase it, regardless of the day of week.