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Last Updated On: 2/8/2012

Buying the cheapest airline ticket may come down to hundreds of hours of research answering which airline offers the cheapest flights, when is the best day to buy, how far in advance should you book to save the most money.  According to a Majd Awary, a pricing and revenue manager within the airline industry, most of those answers are false.  So which person do you turn to in order to save you the most money?

Are those articles, with money saving tips on airline travel, for real?  Or is there really more to it than that, and people are just getting lucky?

Pricing and Revenue Management

According to Majd Awary, many of these findings are untrue.  The claim is that there are entirely too many variables to pin down a pattern that is true at all times.  In Awary's experience, "Airlines use different revenue management systems with different forecasting models and different levels of personal influence to the system. Other variables include (but not limited to) the time of the year, the strength of the destination in the airline network, materialization rate and trend, etc. "

So, if this is not true, why are so many articles and travelers agreeing with what days seem to be the cheapest?  FareCompare.com's expert, Rick Seaney, has even zeroed in on the perfect time to purchase an airline ticket as Tuesday, 3pm EST.  According to his own research, he has found that airline pricing does fluctuate and does follow a cycle during the week.  Tuesday is one of the ideal times to buy because many sales are launched Monday night.  Other experts, and travelers concur.  Wednesday is also considered a cheap day to buy because Mr. Seaney's research has found that on Thursday night, many airlines will push a fare increase, therefore making Friday an expensive day to purchase airline tickets, no matter how far in advance you choose.  Because of this increase, competitors race to offer better deals which makes Saturday a cheap day to buy airfare whether it is for business class airfares or vacation deals.

True Traveler Tips

  • One traveler expressed her experience with Delta Airlines being the cheapest on Tuesdays

  • Another traveler commented on how much cheaper it is to fly out of Detroit Metro to other U.S. destinations

  • Many travelers agree that flexibility is also a big help

  • Purchase tickets 21 days or more in advance.  Some even find that 8 weeks ahead is good

Majd Awary was right though, there are many variables such as airlines, airports, season of travel, weather, even specialty trips that can affect pricing.  International travel gets even more tricky.  Some research has pointed to the lowest pricing being at the end of August and mid-October than any other time in the year.  U.S. travel seems to show the most reliable times and days to travel.  Many researchers are working on a closer reliability on days and times to buy cheap international airfare for business class airfares or for vacation airfares.  Until then, forecasting models and different revenue management systems won't matter if the articles you read to save you money on airline tickets are from experienced travelers and researchers.

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