ARC: Airfares roughly same despite trip length or within two weeks of flight


DENVER, CO – Airlines Reporting Corp (ARC) released a report today challenging the long-held belief that round-trip airfares are less expensive if they are connected to a longer trip. The study also found that ticket purchases made shorter than two days before a flight no longer carry as hefty a premium over a longer advanced purchase as in the past. The study was unveiled today at the Global Business Travel Association Convention in Denver.

ARC analyzed 27,287,300 tickets for travel to the top 15 business destinations, sold by more than 2,000 corporate travel agencies, and found that the average premium paid for tickets purchased last minute vs. tickets bought three to seven days out was, on average, seven percent, or roughly $47. The premium, though, soared more than 50 percent, or about $250, for tickets purchased zero to two days prior vs. a 14-day or longer advanced purchase.

The study’s results also questioned the widely held belief that a longer length of stay yielded a less expensive airline ticket. Length of stay from one to four nights was examined, excluding most Saturday overnight trips to focus on only business travel. Although there was a noticeable difference in fares between a one- to two-night stay vs. three to four, the difference has steadily decreased since 2014 to the point where the premium on an average ticket for a one night stay has dropped 80 percent vs. the average ticket price for longer stays only a few years ago.

“Some of the assumptions of the past, such as longer trips will save significantly on airfare, are no longer true,” said Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of enterprise information. “Additionally, with the findings related to advance purchase windows, corporate travel managers can have some increased flexibility to meet their travelers’ needs without making such a huge dent in their travel budgets—especially for last minute and short-duration trips.”