Airfare Increases 4.5% as Americans Search for Deals - Hopper Research

Airfare Increases 4.5% as Americans Search for Deals

Patrick
By Patrick Surry
Posted Sep 23, 2014

Summary

  • Americans typically start searching for domestic flights 39 days before departure and book 27 days before
  • That means that, overall, Americans spend 12 days searching for flights and comparing prices before ultimately booking
  • Over these 12 days, prices typically increase 4.5%
  • Generally, the more stable the prices in a market, the less you lose by waiting.  In markets where prices vary highly, it’s better to book early rather than look around.
  • Leisure markets such as Hawaii and Florida tend to have the most stable prices and business markets such as Washington, DC and Chicago have the most price variability.

Airfare Trends

Hopper looked at over 300 million flight searches from over the past three months to look at how long Americans typically spend searching for flights before booking and how much that ultimately costs them. On average, people search for flights 39 days before their departure and ultimately book 27 days before, leaving a twelve day window for price comparison. Over this period, the average roundtrip price rises 4.5%, costing the consumer $10-$15.

Figure 1: Average roundtrip prices by booking advance, with the overall shopping-booking window shaded

 

While the overall increase is fairly low - many may argue that a premium of $15 is worth the chance of finding a great deal. Both the browsing window and ‘waiting premium’ vary significantly by market. For example, people flying from Boston to Newark typically only spend 4 days browsing (searching 21 days before departure and booking 17 days before), but the price rises an average of $84, or 77%, over that time. St. Louis to Seattle travelers also face a hefty penalty - their 11 days of browsing can cost them a 24% premium, as average prices rise from $323 to $400.

In some markets, however, taking the time to price compare can really pay off - Houston to Denver fliers typically save 14% by booking 25 days in advance and taking 12 days to compare, and San Francisco to Portland flyers save 13% by booking 22 days in advance after spending 5 days comparing.

Generally, the more stable the prices in a market, the less you lose by waiting.  In markets where prices vary highly, it’s better to book early rather than look around.

 

Domestic Destinations with the Most Stable Prices:

1. Kahului (OGG)

2. Honolulu (HNL)

3. Orlando (MCO)

4. West Palm Beach (PBI)

5. Indianapolis (IND)

6. Columbus (CMH)

7. Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

8. Tampa (TPA)

9. St. Louis (STL)

10. Baltimore (BWI)

 

Domestic Destinations with the Most Variability in Prices:

1. Washington (IAD)

2. Chicago (ORD)

3. Myrtle Beach (MYR)

4. Oakland (OAK)

5. Los Angeles (LAX)

6. Santa Ana (SNA)

7. New Orleans (MSY)

8. Chicago (MDW)

9. Kansas City (MCI)

10. Washington (DCA)

 

International Destinations with the Most Stable Prices:

1. Kingston (KIN)

2. Guadalajara (GDL)

3. Montego Bay (MBJ)

4. Mexico City (MEX)

5. Cancun (CUN)

6. Santo Domingo (SDQ)

7. San Salvador (SAL)

8. Punta Cana (PUJ)

9. Nassau (NAS)

10. San Jose Del Cabo (SJD)

 

International Destinations with the Most Variability in Prices:

1. Amsterdam (AMS)

2. Beijing (PEK)

3. Toronto (YYZ)

4. Istanbul (IST)

5. Athens (ATH)

6. Rome (FCO)

7. Paris (CDG)

8. Manila (MNL)

9. Dublin (DUB)

10. Shanghai (PVG)

 

Data and Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes billions of trips per day.  Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.  Good deal prices are represented by the 10th percentile prices.  For example if the 10th percentile price is $800 dollars it means that only 10% of trips are priced at or below this price.