Revealed: the most economical time to book a flight ticket

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The Independent Travel

The best time to book a flight is eight weeks before departure and some time in the afternoon, according to new research.

Japanese economist Makoto Watanabe and his colleague Marc Moller hypothesize that, factoring in all of the factors that cause ticket prices to fluctuate, the best prices are to be found well in advance of departure as airlines have to convince consumers to book.

"When we book our flight to London weeks ahead we have to account for the possibility of unforeseen events which make our trip to London impossible. In order to make consumers take their chances, airlines have to offer advance purchase discounts. As a consequence, ticket prices increase as the travel date approaches," the UK's Observer newspaper quotes the researchers as saying.

The pair also believe that tickets are cheaper in the afternoons, working on the assumption that business travelers are more likely to book their tickets at work in the morning while leisure travelers leave it until the afternoon.

The full study is yet to be published but stems from work published by the researchers in the Economic Journal earlier this year.

If the predictions are correct, travelers could find themselves paying over the odds for flights, particularly this year.

Several surveys conducted during 2010 have found that the majority of travelers intend to book later, citing the economic climate and uncertainty caused by the ash cloud and aviation strikes among reasons for their indecision.