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Over 12m January Bookers May Miss out on Cheapest Flights, Reveals Skyscanner

January 27, 2014 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

Comprehensive data analysis by leading global travel search site Skyscanner has revealed that the 12.5 million Brits predicted to book their summer flights this month*, may not in fact be getting the best prices.

While many may believe the cheapest fares for summer destinations are offered in January, Skyscanner’s analysis of nearly 200 million searches shows that the cheapest flight tickets are in fact typically available five weeks in advance of travel.

Appendix 1: Graph showing % increase on average fares against lead time

However the study also shows that price patterns can vary significantly between scheduled and budget airlines and between short and long haul travel and is therefore very much destination dependent.

For instance, flights to Spain are at their cheapest just five weeks prior to departure; while holidaymakers booking flights to USA around four months (21 weeks) before departure stand the best chance of getting the cheapest fares, likely to be more than £120 cheaper than if they book during the week of departure.

Customers looking to book flight to Turkey should be able to find the cheapest prices 13 weeks in advance, while the best prices for flights to neighbouring Greece are more likely to be found just three weeks in advance, and represent a saving of 16% on flights booked with a 16 weeks lead time.

The Skyscanner study follows research** that found that 80% of travellers admitted they did not know, or were not sure, when the optimum time for booking flights was, while a further 79% wouldn’t know on first glance if a flight price offered good value.

The Skyscanner research therefore also looked at the average August flight prices across the top ten summer destinations to give British holidaymakers a clearer idea of what prices to expect to pay and when a good deal is on offer. Average prices range from around £150 – £160 to Spain and France, while further afield Turkey and Cyprus flights cost around £250 and the US is almost £800.

Britain’s leading Summer destinations (in order or popularity) Average return flight price for summer pp Best time to book (weeks before departure)
Spain £153 5 weeks
USA £764 21 weeks
Italy £185 6 weeks
France £160 6 weeks
Greece £228 3 weeks
Turkey £256 13 weeks
Portugal £195 5 weeks
Germany £185 9 weeks
Cyprus £251 4 weeks
Croatia £195 6 weeks

Skyscanner’s Mary Porter comments, “While we may not be able to guarantee that every person booking on every single route to Spain will definitely get the cheapest price if they book 5 weeks in advance, this robust analysis shows that this is the lead time that gives customers the best chance of getting the cheapest prices.

“There may be other times throughout the year when customers might get a cheap flight and of course many people (41%***) will be more comfortable booking further in advance, especially as prices close to departure can be quite volatile. Therefore if customers really want to get the very best deal for them our advice would be not to stick to a rigid five week rule, but instead to research prices and track fares for that route by signing up for price alerts, allowing you to see when low fares become available”.

It is not just when flights are booked but also how. Here are some simple rules to bear in mind to get the best price:

1. Mix and Match: Fares don’t have to be booked as returns, instead you can save money by flying out with one airline and back with another.

2. Be open to flying everywhere: Costs to different destinations can vary significantly depending on the airlines operating that route. If you know when you want to travel but are flexible on destination, running a search to ‘everywhere’ can help find the countries that offer the best value flights at any time.

3. Compare and contrast: Using a travel comparison site like Skyscanner allows you to compare the widest range of airlines and online travel agents, so you’ll be able to see where you can get the best deal.

4. Track prices: Skyscanner offers price alerts on all routes to enable flights to be monitored by email. The Skyscanner app offers widgets for Android, Live Tiles for Windows Phone and “watch” functionality for IoS, all of which allow customers to track the latest price changes on a chosen route.

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