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Some pax pay eight times more for a seat than others

August 13, 2014 Headline News, Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59On any given flight, airline passengers can pay up to eight times as much as others in the same cabin section.

That’s according to a study based on millions of airfares analysed by the US travel-planning and flight data site

The study focused on US fares but the same would probably apply in other markets, given that airlines use similar yield management techniques. Hopper looked at several domestic flights taken in early May, including a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Las Vegas. On that flight, one-way fares ranged from less than USD 200 to more than USD 1600 for economy-class seats.

Hopper took a look at the range of prices that are quoted in search results, examining the minimum and maximum prices and a measure of variability. The flights with a higher percent variability are the ones where there is a higher mix of prices and a low percent indicates that prices are more constant, the study found.

“Higher variability also means there is more opportunity to get a better deal, but where you can also end up being the person who overpaid if you don’t do your homework before buying,” Hopper’s chief data scientist, Patrick Surry, commented.

Hopper looked at past flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas to show how the price distribution varied by flight and by airline. It also analysed an additional five markets to see how price distribution varies by market.

When looking at a specific flight between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the study found that prices can vary from under USD 200 to over USD 1600 (all in economy.) Most people could buy a ticket for under USD 600, those who scored a good deal paid under USD 400, and every once in a while someone with incredible luck scored a ticket for under USD 200.

The range of in-flight prices varied by airline, with Spirit and Virgin having the most uniform price distributions. Distribution of prices also varies significantly from market to market.’s advice to flyers wishing to avoid paying too much for their plane ticket:

  • Be knowledgeable about what a good deal price is for your specific route. Distribution of prices varies significantly by market so it’s important to be aware of how much you should be paying for your specific route.
  • Book your ticket early. In general, it’s best to book about 30 days in advance.
  • Monitor what prices other people are finding. Hopper Flight Explorer monitors and analyses over 32 million real-time flight searches conducted by real people each day across the web. Each flight is labelled with a deal ranking so you’ll know whether the flight is in the lowest-priced 10% of flights.
  • Look at the price distribution for your specific trip. Hopper’s Origin-Destination Technical Reports can show you how prices may vary on your specific route.

The data presented in the analysis derived from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 million queries and 1 billion trips per day, the company said. Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.

Edited by : Peter Needham

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