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The Best Time To Buy A Plane Ticket? Texas A&M Study Suggest Weekends

05/24/2013 02:14 EDT
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They're great for nursing hangovers, dealing with chores, running errands and now weekends can add one more thing to their resumes: they're the best time to buy a plane ticket, according to a U.S. report.

In a study from Texas A&M University, Steven L. Puller, an associate professor of economics, found that there was little evidence to back up the popular belief that plane tickets bought midweek are the cheapest.

"There's been this industry folk wisdom that says Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to purchase airline tickets," said Puller in a release, adding that "we couldn't find any systematic analysis to back that up."

Instead, Puller and the study's co-author, Lisa Taylor, found that tickets bought on Saturday and Sunday proved a better deal for customers because that's when airlines are more likely to offer fare discounts.

The two studied the historic cost of actual tickets bought on all major airlines, accounting for things like a ticket's refundability, whether it was bought in advance, and how full the flights were, among other factors. Rather than looking at the cheapest prices available, Puller focused on tickets for the same route bought on different days of the week.

In the end, the two found that tickets bought on the weekends proved to be cheaper, on average, by five per cent. Would-be flyers looking for the biggest discount were suggested to find routes with a mix of both business and leisure customers.

As Discover News puts it, there are two types of travellers: business and leisure. Business travellers typically fly for work on the weekdays and have less leeway on picking the cheapest prices. Leisure travellers on the other hand are more sensitive to prices and will shop around. That means that airlines now have an incentive to lower fares on the weekends to lure price-sensitive leisure travellers on board.

For globe-trotters who are less picky about the day of the week, there are options to cut costs. Last year's data from airline ticket site Kayak suggested that booking a domestic trip three week in advance or an international trip 34 days in advance would save travellers the most money, notes Mens Health News.

In the end, Puller suggests that airlines are practicing, what he calls, "price discrimination," and that "they're" playing the odds" because they have no idea if a buyer if a particular buy is travelling for business or leisure.

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