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Economists Crack the Code On When Plane Tickets Are Cheapest Online

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on August 31, 2010 at 10:00 am

I’ve been there before and I’m sure you have to– sweaty hands, increased heart rate, one click away purchasing that ticket, but one question still nags at you: “If I wait longer could this flight get cheaper?” Well, if you believe this report by The Daily Mail, then your fears can be assuaged, because economists have figured out how long in advance you should buy your ticket for the cheapest airfare. The answer? 8 weeks prior to departure. Oh, and in the afternoon too.

The formula they contrived to figure this all out is this impenetrable one: ∏A =gUG + min(k – g, (1 – g)(1 – r)), where ∏ equals profit. The experts explain the thought behind this:

When we book our flight to London weeks ahead we have to account for the possibility of unforeseen events which make our trip to London impossible. In order to make consumers take their chances, airlines have to offer advance purchase discounts. As a consequence, ticket prices increase as the travel date approaches.

The article postulates that the reason why afternoons is better is that business people — who are less concerned about price — book their flights during office hours earlier in the day while vacationers would book later on from home.

Staying on the topic of travel-saving, the article then goes into how toiletry firms are taking advantage of consumers by making their travel-sized products considerably more expensive, relatively speaking, than their full-sized versions. One way to beat them at their own game is to buy the regular sized products as a refill and pour the product into airline-friendly containers.

[Image: peanutian / Flickr]

Tags: airlines, economists, flights, formula, tickets

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