What is the best day of week to buy flight tickets?
This is the question travelers often ask and there are several researches made around this topic. The majority of studies focus on the USA flights and airlines. The purpose of this research is to perform similar study for European budget airlines. We have narrowed the focus to Ryanair flights only in order to have more accurate statistics and give more concrete advice to consumers.
The dataset for this study consisted of the price history for 26 international Ryanair flights across Europe over the period between 2014 and 2015. The total of nearly 400K price signals were analyzed.
The first objective was to determine which days of week prices tend to decrease on. In other words, what is a likelihood of finding a good deal on a given day of week.
We extracted all the days when the price dropped comparing to the previous day. The results can be seen in the following chart. It shows the distribution of all price drops per days of week.
One clear pattern can be observed. On weekends the chance of prices dropping are extremely low comparing to other days.
This can be explained by human factor combined with how deals on airline tickets are published. What likely happens is Ryanair staff responsible for enabling deals for certain flights do not work on weekends. They come to work on Monday, analyze the demand and occupancy of flights and publish good deals for flights which do no sell well enough.
Comparing all week days, it turns out that the Thursday is the best day of week to find decreased prices in case of Ryanair tickets. The lowest chances to find price drops during weekdays are on Wednesday.
The above stats focus on price decreases and how about price increases? Experienced Ryanair customers know that on the website along some prices they show "X seats left at this fare". In fact this is accurate information. The moment the remaining seats for this price are sold the price automatically increases by 15-20%. However it doesn't always mean the consumer has lost good opportunity. Next day the price may be manually decreased back to lower price slots.
The second objective of this article was to look at how the actual prices depend on the day of week of booking. As the dataset, price history for London (Stansted) – Barcelona flight was selected. It consisted of 40K observations over 7 months. The average price per day of week of booking can be seen in the following table.
The average price lays between £40 and £41, but generally remains consistent. So it is quite clear that average price does not vary based on the day of week of purchase.
The third objective was to analyze the relationship between departure day of week and price. For the same Stansted – Barcelona flight, average prices for each departure day were the following.
The prices are higher for Friday and Sunday flights, which can be explained by UK tourist visiting Barcelona for weekend breaks. This trend is confirmed by the same chart for the return flight which shows higher prices for Sunday and Monday flights as people return from weekend holidays. The same trend can be observed with aggregated data of several UK airports (London Stansted, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh).
To sum up, the following conclusion can be made from Ryanair flight prices analysis.
Prices drop most often on Thursdays (23% of all drops) and by far most rarely on weekends: Saturdays (2%) and Sundays (2%).
Price increases are mostly automatic and decreases are enabled manually.
Average prices do not vary per the day of week of purchase.
Average price vary per the day of week of departure and airport.
For UK departures, highest prices were observed on Friday and lowest on Mon-Wed.
For Barcelona as an example of a holiday destination, highest prices were observed on Sundays and Mondays.
All these factors can be taken into account when looking for the best moment to buy flight tickets. Airhint price predictor uses these features in its algorithm to help consumers.More articles