Finally, a professor works out the Ryanair website

7 April 2014

PD*25836917 The mysterious algorithms that govern the Ryanair website have long baffled scholars, scientists and people trying to book a holiday. Not even Alan Turing could have cracked it.

But now, a new hero has emerged who can help us save money on our cheapo flights. His name is Claudio Piga, an economics professor from Keele University, and he’s devoted his life (well, some of it, anyway) to working out what the **** is going on with Ryanair’s ever changing prices.

Once it was thought that if there was an Easterly wind, you could get a return to Barcelona El Prat for £32.99. But if it blew from the West, they were £89.99. However, Piga has found an actual pattern, and has discovered that tickets are cheaper exactly TEN DAYS before your journey.

He also said that fares were bumped up by a shocking 50-75% in the last few days before departure, making last minute ‘bargains’ an impossibility. Planning ahead is a waste of time, too. If you book seven weeks in advance, you’ll pay more.

Of course Ryanair know that you might either want to book your holiday in good time, or do it on a whim at the last minute. But nobody has ever bothered to work out that low cost airline prices form ‘a U-shaped temporal profile.’ Until now.

Piga will present his findings – which are basically scientific proof that Ryanair are rip-off merchants – at the Royal Economic Society in Manchester this week. A Ryanair spokesman, of course, came out and said that the findings were ‘hopelessly inaccurate’ and that they sold tickets on a first come, first served basis.

Hmm. But who is more likely to be telling the truth? A learned professor of economics, or Michael O’Leary?

TOPICS:   Travel   High Street News   Economy


  • Marco
    I think the Mr Piga should have spent his time a little more productively and researched something interesting and of benefit. Supply and demand is factor governing price. If 10 days are left before the flight and there is only 3 seats left is Mr Piga telling us these will be the cheapest tickets? I very much doubt it! Ryanair releases tickets early on at when the tickets first come on sale at £20 say 6 months before the flight. So I would like to evidence of tickets 10days before cheaper than £20. What a waste of time.
  • _Me_
    As per Marco's post...... how can this be a rip-off? If you don't want to fly with Ryanair, then don't. Go with BA or some other extortionate flight. I know this site loves to pick holes in Ryanair (and I do too), but you need to stop banging the "rip-off" drum. they are the cheapest. Full stop.
  • claudio p.
    Marco there appears to be a bit of misunderstanding. Read the study and you will See that we used our time well. In a nutshell. Se talk about two forces at play. One, the price goes up as the plane fills uo. This means that over time the price increases. Two, the airline may drop prices up to 10 days, especially if the plane is NOT selling as expected. Online everyone observes the joint, total effect of these two forces. Our study uses statistical methods to separate the two effects, something that nobody has ever done before.
  • claudio p.
    As the plane fills up..sorry for the typos..
  • Alex
    There is another recent (2015) study focused on last minute Ryanair tickets, up to 30 days before departure. It confirms some conclusions of the above study, but doesn't prove the theory that 10 days to departure is the best moment.

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