Book flights around these sweet spots to maximise savings
17 Aug 2018 - by Jason Simpson
Corporate travellers aren’t always able to book their flights well ahead of their departure date, but according to Kirby Gordon, head of sales and distribution at FlySafair, corporates can realise huge fare savings with some forward planning.
“As it gets closer to departure, more people start to confirm their travel plan and look for seats, so the demand tends to increase,” Gordon explains. “At the same time the seats are selling so there are fewer and fewer available on the flight in question. So as demand increases and supply decreases, people become willing to pay higher prices for their seats and so the prices rise.”
FlySafair uses a third-party tool to monitor the market prices, showing the average price for a ticket from Cape Town to Johannesburg in June was R1 680. “When looking at the averages on that route in that month, it’s safe to say that you would have saved 11% by purchasing flights five days out compared with people who purchased at the last minute, 16% if you increase that to a week, 19% at two weeks, and 26% if you booked a month beforehand.” While unlikely for corporates, bookings made 90 days prior to departure would have seen a 39% saving.
According to the data, a sweet spot for savings on that route in June, would have been during the two days (days eight and nine) before the one-week mark, when savings went up to 18%. From days 10-13 prices drop back down to 16%, before reaching another sweet spot around the two-week mark (from days 14 to 16), when savings increased to 19%.
Brian Kitchin, executive manager, sales and distribution at kulula.com, said that ideally corporates should book a minimum of seven to 10 days prior to departure, but pointed out that flight availability was dynamic, and exact figures were adjusted based on seats sold.
Kitchin also said that preferred agreements with an airline should not prevent corporates from taking advantage of the savings. “There is no reason why a preferred agreement would impact advance purchase. In fact, corporates should insist that travellers book as early as possible to take advantage of the cheaper fares.”
The Airline Reporting Group (ARC), with Egencia, released an analysis of ARC’s database of more than 2 000 US and 4 000 EU TMCs, showing that travellers who book three days before departure spend 61% more than those who book 22 days earlier on US domestic flights in economy class. While domestic US flights in Premium cabins cost 37% more if booked three days before departure, compared with the 22-day advance booking fare.