Ne*ws Releases

ARC Finds Lowest-Priced Domestic Air Tickets Bought 8 Weeks Before Flight, 24 Weeks Before Int'l Flights

Study Finds Tickets Purchased on Sunday as Generally Least Expensive


ARLINGTON, Va. – October 22, 2014 – Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) announced today that after researching air ticket purchases between January 2013 through July 2014, travelers purchased the least expensive airfares eight weeks in advance of their departure for U.S. domestic routes and 24 weeks in advance of departure for international destinations.

At these points during any given 300-day advance purchase period throughout the 19 months examined, flyers paid 19 percent below the average fare of $496 for a domestic flight and 27 percent below the average fare of $1,368 for an international flight. Close to 130 million tickets worth $94 billion purchased in the U.S. were included in the study*.

The findings update the research ARC released in January 2012 after examining ticket sales for 2011. That study found the least expensive domestic tickets were purchased six weeks prior to departure and were 5.8 percent below the average ticket price for 2011. That gap is now 19 percent based on the latest research. International tickets were not part of the 2011 study.

ARC also discovered from its data that the least expensive air tickets were purchased on Sunday, regardless of a domestic or international destination. During the traditional Monday through Friday workweek, tickets bought on Tuesday were lowest.

The research report is available free at http://bit.ly/1xy2qbk.

"This latest study by ARC is significant because it reveals that not only have the lowest airfares shifted from six to eight weeks out for domestic travel, but the savings are markedly greater on a percentage basis," said Chuck Thackston, managing director of enterprise information management at ARC. "It was also interesting to see that the data showed the least expensive tickets were purchased on a Sunday as opposed to Tuesday, which is a common belief.

"Air ticket pricing is dynamic and ARC isn't advising anyone to purchase tickets only at these times during the sales cycle as there is no guarantee they will receive the lowest price; it is just what the data pattern indicates during the study period."

To see Thackston's comments about these statistics, go to http://youtu.be/AOExStZvwR0

Average Ticket Price vs. Advanced Purchase Days for U.S. Domestic Flights
Average Ticket Price vs. Advanced Purchase Days for U.S. Domestic Flights Showing Average Ticket Price between 300 Days and Departure. Average ticket prices changes very little between 100 and 50 days prior to departure.

Day of Week Ticket Sales Average Ticket Price
Sunday 6,070,569 $432
Monday 16,575,118 $503
Tuesday 18,076,050 $497
Wednesday 17,707,458 $498
Thursday 16,106,231 $501
Friday 15,694,231 $502
Saturday 5,595,956 $439

Summary Statistics for U.S. Domestic Flights by Day of Week
All advanced purchased days are included.

Average Ticket Price vs. Advanced Purchase Days for International Flights
Average Ticket Price vs. Advanced Purchase Days for International Flights Showing Average Ticket Price between 300 Days and Departure. Average ticket price changes very little between 250 and 150 days prior to departure.

Day of Week Tickets Sold Average Ticket Price
Sunday 2,069,460 $958
Monday 5,469,716 $1387
Tuesday 5,991,440 $1396
Wednesday 6,031,016 $1409
Thursday 5,749,532 $1437
Friday 6,007,628 $1515
Saturday 2,633,636 $1000

Summary Statistics for International Flights by Day of Week
All advanced purchased days are included.

Notes for Editors:
*Ticket Sales

  • Based on $94 billion worth of ticket sales across 129,778,041 transactions from January 2013 through July 31, 2014, U.S. retail and corporate travel agent locations, satellite ticket printing offices and online travel agencies
  • Round-trip flight tickets with origin in the United States
  • Does not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines.
  • Total sales are equal to the total amount paid for a ticket, which includes applicable taxes and fees. This does not include baggage fees, seat charges or other fees collected by the airlines separate from the original ticket purchase.

About ARC:
ARC powers the U.S.-based travel industry with premier business solutions, travel agency accreditation services, process and financial management tools, and powerful data analytics. In 2013, ARC settled $86 billion worth of carrier ticket transactions for more than 9,400 travel agencies with 13,000 points of sale. By providing world-class business services and products, ARC enables participating agencies and 200 carriers to focus on what's important—increasing their revenue. Established in 1984, ARC is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. For more information, please visit www.arccorp.com.