Looking for a cheap plane ticket is like hunting for treasure. Right at the start, I would like to point out that I am not referring to marketed prices of LCC airlines inside Europe. So there’s no Ryanair, EasyJet, Wiz or others here. I’m talking about flights overseas.
Airplane ticket prices comprise many elements. Among these are food, seat reservation, and luggage. These items are not included in the price when it comes to LCC airline companies.
There are 4 classes. The first is the most expensive one and is non-existent in a real airplane. The business class is taken as the standard class, and you have to pay three to five times more than for the economy class. The economy plus class is all the more widespread. It covers the majority of flights to North America. There aren’t that many flights to Asia and the Far East with economy plus class. It doesn’t stand a chance against the standard economy class most passengers fly by and which brings less profit to the airline company.
Compared to four travel classes distinguished by the comfort of seats and service, there’s also more booking classes that have different prices for the same class etc. the economic class. Booking classes have different rules, limitations and conditions. Prices depend on many factors. If we take into consideration that the economy class has seats for 100 people, it’s very feasible that among 100 seats there are 10 different classes of varying prices. When you look in OTA (Online travel agency) like Kayak or Expedia, they will offer you the cheapest booking class at the moment of inquiry. You’ll get the same prices from the travel agent. If you don’t buy the ticket right away it’s highly probable that the prices will be quite different a few hours later or the next day.
Why are there so many classes? The aim and goal of the existence of airline companies is to make a profit on the transport of passengers and goods. When there’as a lot of competition going on among the companies, airlines will do anything to increase their profit
The major difference is in the type and kind of passengers. There are two main types: business and tourists. Both buy plane tickets, but the way they do that differs. Tourists are more flexible with dates, even destinations. Those travelling on business have to fly to a destination on a certain date and reach it by a certain time.
Tourists buy tickets even months ahead what gives them time to plan and book cheaper classes. Business travellers travel when they have to and they don’t have issues with having to pay more for the remaining classes at a given time. As the day of the flight draws nearer, the airline companies increase their prices.The last 20% of the remaining seats may be sold for even twice or three times the usual price.
It rarely happens that prices drop right before the day of the flight, but that depends on the occupancy rate.
Each flight is looked at as a separate business. Therefore airlines aim to make a profit on each flight. It is pretty much different when we look at LCC’s, as they cover their losses on promotional flights by accepting donations from tourist boards to destinations they offer flights to and by charging for additional services.
The best prices are most probably three months before the actual flight, but that concerns dates during high seasons of travelling such as international and school holidays. Then the companies raise their prices. It’s also good to know if there is a holiday in the destination you are travelling to, because this can alter the price, too.
On which days is it cheaper to buy a ticket?
Generally speaking, fridays, sundays and mondays are more expensive than tuesdays, wednesdays and thursdays. The reason for that is that business passengers, which make up the majority of passengers, travel on those days. Saturday can be the day when many tourists go on their trips, so it’s commendable to compare the prices.
More so, as there is no strict rule to the formation of prices. Airlines use algorithms which follow the market trends and the travel habits of passengers very meticulously. In that way, they determine their prices. Flights which are early in the morning or late in the evening are a lot cheaper than those at a more “normal” time of day.
Some regions in the world are cheaper than others. Where there’s a lot of competition, the prices are cheaper than with destinations lacking competition. A lot of flights to a destination means that there are a lot of travelers who also want more favorable prices, so they compete against each other.
What is codeshare? Let’s take the morning flights from London to New York, for example. Between half past 9 and half past 11 there are 19 airlines flying in 4 different time periods. That’s a sign that there are just 4 airplanes flying, etc. American, Delta, British, and Virgin. Some ten more airlines have contracts on codeshare flights which offer seats exactly on these flights. That means that different companies have different prices for the same flight on the same plane. Search engines may not offer different options, so it will be good to check the prices directly on the airlines’ webpages. Differences may arise to 20%, what again varies in accordance with the average occupancy rate, as companies buy a fixed amount of seats on those flights. What it amounts to is that flying with Iberia from Madrid via London to New York may be 20% cheaper than the flight with Delta (and it’s Delta you will be flying with in the end).
I hope I have shed some light on the way the prices of plane tickets are formed and that this will help you during searching and buying the ticket that fits you most. Not everyone buys cheap. It’s important to find the connection that suits you best.
Translation of the original Croatian text by Mariann Makrai- Tralangia
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