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Price discrimination by day-of-week of purchase: Evidence from the U.S. airline industry

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  • Puller, Steven L.
  • Taylor, Lisa M.

Abstract

This paper identifies a source of price discrimination utilized by airlines – price discrimination based on the day-of-the-week that a ticket is purchased. Using unique transaction data, we compare tickets on the same airline and route that are purchased on different days of the week, after controlling for the day of week of travel, the ticket restrictions, the demand characteristics of the flights, and the number of days in advance that the ticket is purchased. We find that fares are 5% lower when purchased on the weekend. We conjecture that this is a form of price discrimination. If airlines believe that weekend purchasers are more likely to be price-elastic leisure travelers, then they may offer lower prices on weekends when the mix of purchasing customers makes demand more price elastic. This conjecture is supported by the finding that the weekend purchase effect is distinctly larger on routes with a mixture of both business and leisure customers than on routes that disproportionately serve leisure customers. We illustrate that this pricing practice can have important impacts on airline profits. These results have implications for other industries that have the ability to change prices daily based upon the types of customers who purchase on a specific day.

Suggested Citation

  • Puller, Steven L. & Taylor, Lisa M., 2012. "Price discrimination by day-of-week of purchase: Evidence from the U.S. airline industry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 801-812.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:84:y:2012:i:3:p:801-812
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2012.09.022
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Carattini & Alessandro Tavoni, 2016. "How green are green economists?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(4), pages 2311-2323.
    2. Luttmann, Alexander, 2019. "Evidence of directional price discrimination in the U.S. airline industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 291-329.
    3. Domínguez-Menchero, J. Santos & Rivera, Javier & Torres-Manzanera, Emilio, 2014. "Optimal purchase timing in the airline market," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 137-143.
    4. Andrés Martínez, María-Encarnación & Alfaro Navarro, José-Luis & Trinquecoste, Jean-François, 2017. "The effect of destination type and travel period on the behavior of the price of airline tickets," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 37-43.
    5. Escobari, Diego & Rupp, Nicholas & Meskey, Joseph, 2018. "Dynamic Price Discrimination in Airlines," MPRA Paper 88078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Miravete, Eugenio J & Seim, Katja & Thurk, Jeff, 2013. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Diego Escobari & Nicholas G. Rupp & Joseph Meskey, 2019. "An Analysis of Dynamic Price Discrimination in Airlines," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 85(3), pages 639-662, January.
    8. Moreno-Izquierdo, L. & Ramón-Rodríguez, A. & Perles Ribes, J., 2015. "The impact of the internet on the pricing strategies of the European low cost airlines," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 246(2), pages 651-660.
    9. Luttmann, Alexander, 2019. "Are passengers compensated for incurring an airport layover? Estimating the value of layover time in the U.S. airline industry," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 1-13.
    10. Brian So, 2017. "An implementable optimization of airfare structure," Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 16(5), pages 441-465, October.
    11. Carattini, Stefano & Tavoni, Alessandro, 2016. "How Green are Economists?," MITP: Mitigation, Innovation and Transformation Pathways 240749, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    12. Catherine Muller-Vibes & Chantal Roucolle & Miguel Urdanoz, 2018. "Dynamic Price Competition in the Air Transport Market: An Analysis on Long-Haul Routes," Post-Print hal-01822988, HAL.
    13. Wen, Chieh-Hua & Chen, Po-Hung, 2017. "Passenger booking timing for low-cost airlines: A continuous logit approach," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(PA), pages 91-99.
    14. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2014. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CESifo Working Paper Series 4692, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Hotle, Susan L. & Castillo, Marco & Garrow, Laurie A. & Higgins, Matthew J., 2015. "The impact of advance purchase deadlines on airline consumers’ search and purchase behaviors," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-16.
    16. Perera, Suranga & Tan, David, 2019. "In search of the “Right Price” for air travel: First steps towards estimating granular price-demand elasticity," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 557-569.
    17. Stacey, Brian, 2015. "Airline Price Discrimination," MPRA Paper 69168, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price discrimination; Airline pricing;

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services
    • L9 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities

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