You might always be intrigued how the airfares vary so much between two airports. Never does the price between two same airports the same over different times of the year. Curious! Then fasten your seat-belts while we prepare to take off.
Deciding how airfares should be priced is almost a daily affair. Passenger volumes is the main parameter to decide the airfares. There are several reasons people take-off from one place to another, but essentially, it is for business or leisure.
These six parameters however, let the airlines decide effectively how flight prices should be decided for maximum profitability.
Air Mile Distance
We have little idea about how airfares are priced over the airmile distances. Air miles is the flying distance in miles between two airports. The shorter the distance with more volume of passengers to fly, the more profitable it gets.
You can always check out the prices between the airports where you need to fly shorter air mile distances as compared to the longer ones.
So, the key is to understand that if you are able to cut out on the air mile distance while planning your flights, you can always go for the cheaper flight options.
When you try to book flights using any flight booking engine, the largest number of seats that you can book is not more than 9.
Why this magic figure of 9 often intrigued me a lot. But, then when I checked out the seating in the airliners, the picture was clear.
Let me clear it out. Its simple math. There are 180 seats in most of the low-cost airlines. This allows 20 slabs of ticketing possible in every booking.
Each slab is priced for a particular airfare and as the flights are booked online, the slab adjusts itself over time. It does not matter now which search engine you use, what matters is “who comes first”. The moment the 9th ticket is booked in a slab, the prices move to the next slab. This also happens when you try to book more than one tickets in a single booking. The prices remain in the lower slab till such time
So, now you know why earlier is better! But how early!
It doesn’t end here though!
Of course, you cannot imagine business without customers and airline industry is no alien to it.
One of the important variables that affect airfares is the passenger volumes. Typically, the airports from where both domestic and international flights operate, the passenger volumes are considerably high.
Consider the metro cities for instance. A huge volume of passengers move in and out of the Indian metro cities, especially for business. This ensures larger volumes and the airlines can expect not to go under-seated.
But when one has to look at smaller towns and cities where the passenger volumes are lesser, undoubtedly, the ticket prices are spread over the limited number of seats to compensate for the operational costs.
When flying to your destination, it is a good idea to check whether the airport has a higher or a lower passenger volume. Or, if you are traveling from one smaller airport to another, is there a metro airport close-by where you can land and cover the distance.
For example, while traveling to Dhanbad from Indore, you can hop to Kolkata instead of Dhanbad directly from where Dhanbad is just 4 hours journey. Since you are hopping to a metro city, chances are you can get cheaper flight options.
One of the ways the airlines increases passenger volumes is with the hop flights. Hopping over a secondary destination enroute, the airline increases the passenger volumes to compensate for the empty seats.
It is not unusual to find flights hopping to your destination from unusual routes. Again, the passengers travel on hop flights in two ways – either the same flight or a connecting flight.
If you are hopping to your destination on the ‘same’ flight over a shorter halt, the airfares are usually lower; however, if you are on a connecting flight, understand that you are ultimately occupying seats in two flights and end up paying for both.
So, when you are checking hop flights, make sure you check the flight numbers carefully as that indicates whether you are taking the second part of the journey on the same or a connecting flight.
Flying Days and Timings
Come weekends and you have the entire office going population rushing back homes. A decade ago, Saturdays used to be the busiest days for air traffic.
Now a days, its Friday evenings and do I need to tell you how that impacts the airfares!! Especially the people commuting between metros, the number of hops also increases considerably.
Look at this – Indigo runs 8 Direct flights between Mumbai and Delhi on weekdays and 16 (Exactly double) the number of direct flights on Fridays, 11 on Saturdays and about 15 on Sundays (because people are rushing back from source to destination to rejoin office on Monday Mornings).
Check out the trends for GoAir from Delhi to Mumbai and it follows a similar pattern. Highly priced fares with more flights on Fridays that continues up to Mondays.
This trend continues up to Mondays, and Tuesday onwards, the number of flights goes down again.
So, if you are really looking for weekend hops, the best time could be to look for flights on Saturday early mornings when there is lull in flights and return on Monday early mornings if you want to make up for a day.
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