Last updated: 11:18 AM ET, Thu July 28 2016

Study: Staying Longer, Planning Earlier Doesn’t Make Flights Cheaper

Airlines & Airports | Michael Schottey | July 28, 2016

Study: Staying Longer, Planning Earlier Doesn’t Make Flights Cheaper

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Are you stressing far too much about all the wrong things when it comes to booking your next flight? According to a study from Airlines Reporting Corp, you almost certainly are.

In an analysis of 27,287,300 tickets to 15 business destinations, sold by more than 2,000 corporate travel agencies, ARC found that savings were minimal when flights were planned 14 days out or longer. Those same savings were almost nonexistent for flights planned around trips with shorter stays and those with longer ones.

This shatters the beliefs of so many business travelers.

Anecdotally, many “know” that they can find cheaper flights by planning weeks and months in advance. Online tools are built around those notions, and companies change the flow of everything they do just to make sure those long-held notions are followed. Business travel can be an expensive line item, so easy tactics like planning ahead and staying an extra day (or two) were easy fixes.

 READ MORE: 8 Summer Destinations Where Americans Can Get the Most for Their Money 

Though the report focused on business travelers, we know that these ideas filter down to personal and family travel as well. It turns out, most of it is all for naught.

To be fair, these ideas were true once upon a time, and there are still slight savings to be had with these outdated travel tips.

According to ARC, fliers save only around 7 percent planning ahead two weeks in advance or more. That number jumps to 50 percent within two days. So, obviously, last minute flights will still cost you, but even that premium is going down! As for staying longer? The price of a one-night trip has dropped 80 percent over the last couple of years — a margin that is easily smaller than the price of an extra night of lodging.

 READ MORE: Taking the Stress out of Business Travel  

Chuck Thackston, ARC's managing director of enterprise information, said of the report: "Some of the assumptions of the past, such as longer trips will save significantly on airfare, are no longer true. Additionally, with the findings related to advance purchase windows, corporate travel managers can have some increased flexibility to meet their travelers' needs without making such a huge dent in their travel budgets — especially for last minute and short-duration trips."

What can travelers do to save money on flights?

TravelPulse has covered this topic extensively, and while some of the old assumptions may not hold true anymore, there are still plenty of ways to save a little extra coin. Traveling light to save on baggage fees is always a plus. Fees, in general, can add up quickly — especially with so-called budget carriers. The best way to save money may simply be knowing which apps to use and which airports to fly out of and into. Overall, the best advice simply may be to fly now if you’re planning on flying, because flights are as cheap as they’ve been for years.

ARC’s study is a reminder that travel pricing isn’t simple, and booking with assumptions rather than all the facts may end up costing more in the long run. 


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