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I am planning to fly either PUNE - YUL or BOM - YUL with a layover somewhere in Europe. I want to know if there is some site which gives some idea of the historical prices of tickets between these. I do understand that historical prices are nothing more than an indicator of what was rather than what will be. I am looking for something which can be used on desktop or on web and not just mobile, hence no hopper.

For instance, this year prices of crude oil have moved upwards a bit which means Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) will be up north so there is the possibility of a rise in ticket prices, but if there are more tickets unsold than people are flying then probably prices may be the same or even less.

Any ideas anybody?

  • 1
    It sounds like an interesting tool to have but I suspect it is not possible because prices for route depend on too many parameters such as duration of stay, advance purchase time, discounts, seat availability, etc. In other words, there is no single historical price for one route on a given day. Seats in a given class on a flight could be sold for dozens of different prices. – Itai Feb 5 '17 at 3:45
  • @Itai as I tried to detail in my answer: the data does exist at any time point and if all the databases send the changes to a central database then yes theoretically this could be assembled if for whatever demented reason the FAA demanded it for example. Note for the future: if you do get this job make sure to ping me I would love to work on this. – chx Feb 5 '17 at 4:25
  • It'd be nice if you could clarify whether you mean historically offered prices or historically purchased prices. The latter is likely possible and the former likely not. – Mehrdad Feb 5 '17 at 9:17
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    Historical offered prices would have at least three dimensions: the date of the flight, the date the fare was offered, and the fare class (which is associated to restrictions such as routing, duration of stay, advance purchase, etc.). For the same flight on the same date, you could end up with wildly different prices if you book 3 months or 3 days in advance... – jcaron Feb 5 '17 at 9:33
  • Note that for a given source, destination, date, Kayak will try to show a graph of prices and make a "prediction" of whether prices will go up or down. However, this is not available on PNQ-YUL or BOM-YUL for the dates I tried ("insufficient data"). Also, it helps you choose when to buy, but not necessarily when to fly. – jcaron Feb 5 '17 at 9:37
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Yes, FlightAware Insight allows you to see minimum, median, and maximum prices on a given route over the last year, but it currently only has data for the USA.

For example, searching for flights from Nashville (BNA/KBNA) to Atlanta (ATL/KATL) yields these results:

FlightAware Insight screenshot

According to FlightAware's FAQ, this data is provided by the airlines every 30-90 days, but is currently only available in the United States.

What is the coverage area of airline insight data?

FlightAware Insight currently cover airline and cargo operations in the US.

How current is FlightAware's insight data?

FlightAware Insight data is updated every 30-90 days. FlightAware currently displays the last year of data.

How does FlightAware know the fare/routing ticket details?

This ticket data for flown itineraries is provided by the airlines on a regular basis but with personal information (e.g., name, frequent flyer number, address, method of payment) removed.


Note on Ticket Prices

When looking at these prices, keep in mind that a large percentage of travelers on many routes (if not most routes) are business travelers buying expensive last-minute fares, not casual travelers booking cheap fares 4 months out. As such, the median prices you see here will probably be higher than you expect if you fall into the latter category and aren't necessarily good guidance about what constitutes a 'good' price for the route. The minimum fares work better for that purpose, though.


Note on "Airport Code" Search Fields

The "airport code" they're looking for in the search fields on this site is the ICAO identifier for the airport (used by pilots and ATC,) not the IATA airport code (used by airlines for ticketing and baggage handling.) Thankfully, converting between the two is easy for the USA. For airports in the continental 48 states, in general, just adding 'K' to the front of its IATA code will yield its ICAO code. For airports in Alaska or Hawaii, add 'P' instead. Unfortunately, it's not so easy for airports outside of the USA, where there's often no correlation at all between the two codes, so you just have to look up the ICAO code.

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    This is very interesting! It shows the original question might be too broad because it surely gives you "some idea of the historical prices of tickets" emphasis mine but at same time, it shows very little. The minimal fare will often be due to some sale, unachievable normally, the median and maximum you already explained why it doesn't help much. – chx Feb 5 '17 at 3:59
  • @chx Agreed. The minimum will definitely be below what you'd normally expect to get, but at least the minimum and median provide a bit of a range, even if it's a rather broad one. Not the most useful thing ever, but somewhat better than nothing. Unfortunately, aggregating the entire year like this also means that you can't really discern seasonal trends. – reirab Feb 5 '17 at 4:11
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I agree with @chx (for reasons expressed in a different way here) but go further and suggest the data would be useless for your purposes anyway. When fuel prices dropped 70% fares to Spain went up 10%. Others fares did fall but by significantly different amounts. There are far too many other factors involved (exchange rates, competition, demand, improved fuel efficiency, etc) for even a change over one year in what comprises less than 30% of ticket price to have a very noticeable impact, even if of immediate effect.

And another issue is that the impact is not immediate. Most airlines hedge† fuel costs and buy in the future at prices set in the present. Unexpected changes in the commodity price may have no impact for six months or more. Even the few that do not hedge normally cannot, or chose not to, pass through input price changes directly and immediately into prices because they are often in fierce competition with others that do not pass on such changes immediately.

† considered at How do oil prices impact flight prices?

  • interesting, didn't expect that bit about Spain. – shirish Feb 4 '17 at 23:10
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Of course it is near impossible to prove a negative but I will venture a historical database of all airline fares does not exist. You would need to have an agreement with all the Global Distribution Systems (but at least the large ones) to get a "ping" every time a fare is entered or a ticket is sold or any other relevant change happens to any airline fare. Where's the business in this for the GDS? Oh and if you were able to get hold of this data, you might have a chance at playing the on demand pricing game better simply because you'd have more data than the airlines themselves.

Noone has any incentive to sell you such a feed.

  • And there's not enough demand for such a tool to inspire someone to build it. However, it would be possible to constantly (at a low bandwidth rate so as not to get blocked) query various search engines for various routes and dats and build an incomplete database. And it would be easy for the search engines to save the fares they quoted/sold. But such a tool wouldn't get enough use for them to make any money from it. – WGroleau Feb 5 '17 at 14:52

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