While I was researching for my South Africa trip, most of the flights within my budget from Mumbai (BOM) were at some unearthly hour like 04:00 hrs or thereabouts.

Is it because of such zombie/dead hours that we get cheap flights?

I am guessing the logic/theory is because of unearthly hours, the airlines must be paying less fees to the airport and hence pass some of that to customers who are willing to travel at that hour.

Look forward to know if my assumption/theory is correct or it's something else altogether ?

I ask as I had same flights while going and coming via Qatar Airways at 04:00 hours at going and coming around 03:00 hrs.

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    Dude, airline pricing has next to nothing to do with terror risk, it's just that there's less demand that time of the day for reasons you have stated. – mts Nov 6 '16 at 21:21
  • true, but that is/was the paranoia in me as a possibility. – shirish Nov 6 '16 at 21:51
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    If the RPG theory really made logical sense, surely the flights at night would be more expensive, not less, as people would be willing to pay more to have a lower risk of an attack. – Zach Lipton Nov 6 '16 at 23:34
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    Some airports are closed, or heavily restrict takeoffs and landings, at night. Flight schedules often have to avoid landing at airports during these times. – Michael Hampton Nov 6 '16 at 23:48
  • removed the rpg theory – shirish Nov 6 '16 at 23:52

Many flights to Europe leave Mumbai around 3am so that they arrive first thing in the morning. For example, consider these flights (taken from FlightAware):

BOM departures

Flights to Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, and London leave Mumbai around 3-4am and arrive at their destinations between 6 and 8am (there are also flights to New York, Zurich, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Munich that leave around 1-2am and arrive early in the morning at these airports. This allows business travelers to have a full day of work at their destination and fly during night hours. It also allows connecting passengers (these are all major hub airports) to arrive at the next airport early in the day, so that they can connect to a wide range of other flights to airports all over the world.

And as you've noticed, flights at more inconvenient times may be cheaper. Airlines wish to maximize their profit for all their flights, and they know that some passengers are willing to pay more for their travel than others. As such, they offer seats at different price points. Some of these are obvious: economy class vs business class vs first class (where available), charging extra for a reserved seat, etc... Some are less obvious: charging less for direct flights (without connections), charging more for last-minute bookings, and charging less for flights that leave at more inconvenient times.

The threat of a terrorist attack is not relevant to departure times.

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  • "And as you've noticed, flights at more inconvenient times may be cheaper" while that's generally true, in cases like "Bombay to Europe" they just all depart in the small hours of the morning. I've never seen any price difference between 1am and 4am flights, if you see what i mean. (You also have that infuriating thing where, on ridiculously long flight sets if you depart at either 000, 200 or 400 you end at the damned destination at the same time anyway, heh! Have to choose the lesser of two annoyances...or rather choose one of two equal annoyances!) – Fattie Nov 7 '16 at 11:53

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