Good news for travelers: Between October 2014 and October 2015, airfares worldwide declined 8 percent. And that trend is expected to continue into next year.
That’s according to “Preparing for Takeoff: Air Travel Outlook for 2016,” a report compiled by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Among the route-specific findings:
- Intra-Europe prices fell the most, at 17%
- Prices for flights between North America and the Asia-Pacific region fell 13%
- Intra-North America prices fell 5%
Looking ahead, the report paints a rosy picture. “We expect prices will continue to trend downward as airlines continue to add capacity.”
The Timing Effect
The study also weighed in on the blackish art of advance booking. The overarching advice: “Wherever you are traveling, wherever you are headed, the general rule is that the earlier you buy an air ticket, the more money you can save.”
The specifics depend on the route:
- Best time to buy a ticket for travel within North America: 57 days in advance
- Best time to buy a ticket for travel to Europe from North America: 176 days in advance
- Best time to buy a ticket for travel to the Caribbean from North America: 77 days in advance
- Best time to buy a ticket for travel to South America from North America: 90 days in advance
- Best time to buy a ticket for travel to Asia from North America: 160 days in advance
As for the best days of the week to travel, for North America flights, the airfares were lowest on Saturdays and Sundays, and highest on Fridays.
Of course, year-over-year price declines don’t guarantee that the lower price is a bargain; it’s just lower than it was a year ago. But lower is always better than higher. And if indeed the trend continues, it’s a hopeful sign for travel affordability.
Price is of course an important consideration. But it’s easy to over-obsess about getting the best deal, to the detriment of making any deal at all. Travel is more affordable than ever, whether you fly on a Saturday or a Wednesday, and whether you book 50 days in advance or 75.
As the report recommends, “Whenever you buy, wherever you’re headed, just go. The year 2016 is likely to be a great year to travel for less. Take advantage of this scenario while you can.” Expedia is in the business of selling flights and hotel rooms, so it’s no surprise the company is bullish on travel. But the “Just Go” advice is solid. And it’s free.
Reader Reality Check
Do you let shopping for flights interfere with flying?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.