You could be paying 6X more for your flight than your seatmate - Hopper Research

You could be paying 6X more for your flight than your seatmate

Patrick
By Patrick Surry
Posted Aug 3, 2017

Every traveler fears being that person who paid the most for their plane ticket.

Since you can't ask everyone on your flight how much their ticket cost, Hopper took a look at the range of prices for one of the U.S.'s most popular routes (Los Angeles - San Francisco) to see how much more (or less!) you could be paying than your seatmate.

As it turns out, you could be paying 6X more. On the same flight, prices can vary from under $100 to over $600 (all in economy) -- most people could buy a ticket for under $300, but those who score a good deal pay half as much, under $150. That's a huge difference!

How Much You Pay Could Depend On Which Airline You Take

Your ability to score a great deal can depend on the airline you take, as the range of flight prices varies by airline. Delta has the least amount of variability, while United Airlines has the most. The flights with a higher percent variability (i.e. have a higher percentage of seats being sold at varying prices) are the ones where you have more opportunity to get a better deal, but where you could also end up being the person who overpaid if you only spot check prices.

The flights with the least amount of variability (i.e. have a lower percentage of seats being sold at varying prices) have the most stable prices for economy seats. That means you might not pay that much more than your seatmate, but you also might not score a great deal.

Airlines Ranked By Most Price Variation to Least

**This statistic measures price distribution on a given flight. For example, if “% ticket price variability" were 0%, that would mean everyone paid the same price (no variability). If it were 100%, however, everyone would have paid different prices (highest possible variability).

Fig. 1: United Airlines

Figure 1: United Airlines

Figure 2: Hahn Air


Figure 3: Virgin America


Figure 4: American Airlines


Figure 5: Alaska Airlines


Figure 6: Delta Air Lines


At Some Airports, Ticket Prices Vary More Than Others

Price variability doesn't just end at airlines. At some airports, ticket prices vary more than others. Economy tickets for passengers flying into Washington, D.C. (IAD) -- the airport with the highest price variability -- vary by an average of 23%. Compare that to Kahului, HI (OGG) -- the airport with the lowest price variability -- whose economy tickets vary by an average of only 8%.

5 International Airports Where It's Most Important to Compare Price

International destinations with the highest airfare price variability


5 International Airports Where It's Least Important to Compare Prices

International destinations with the lowest airfare price variability


5 U.S. Airports Where It's Most Important to Compare Prices

Domestic destinations with the highest airfare price variability


5 U.S. Airports Where It's Least Important to Compare Prices

Domestic destinations with the lowest airfare price variability



If you're not sure what you should pay for your flight, download Hopper and the app will let you know what a good price is for your route and date. It will even monitor prices for you and alert you when to buy.

Data and Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper's combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 to 15 billion airfare price quotes every day. For this particular study, we analyzed our flight pricing data for direct flights departing on July 11, 2017 and returning July 14, 2017 from Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO).

To create this model, we took the whole range of prices and examined how many times each price category was offered. The diagrams represent the amount of availability in each price category. The airlines are ranked by the gini index which is a measure of inequality.