Travel Smartly: Flight Analysis (December 2017)

Disclaimer: The flight data used in this analysis was scraped on September 1st, 2017 from publicly displayed information on the Expedia website. The GEODistance data was scraped from World Airport Codes  and the Global Financial Centre Index was retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_centre

Planning to travel to Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia or Trinidad & Tobago in December? Well luckily I did an analysis looking at the cost for a flight to these beautiful countries coming from 23 different places!

The sample consists of 95,000 flights throughout the month of December. Flight prices were collected for each day in December 2017 with a stay of 7 days and were of economy class. Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago were the destinations of interest with the starting points totaling approximately 23 for each of the destinations.

Starting points: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Boston, Belize, India, Dominica, Dubai, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Guyana, Grenada, New York, Jamaica, London, Manchester, Miami, Tokyo, Beijing, Trinidad & Tobago, San Francisco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Toronto.

Analysis

Flight prices change frequently and as such, the prices quoted in this analysis may differ from live quotes when compared. Despite this drawback, given that my sample of prices were collected within a small time interval, it makes for a great comparative analysis.

Every kilometer counts!

Overall, on average you can expect to pay $0.68USD/km when travelling to these destinations. However, Saint Lucia has the highest cost, $0.80USD/km, followed by Barbados with a price on average of $0.71USD/km. Trinidad’s and Jamaica’s average prices were $0.57USD/km and $0.53USD/km respectively. Interestingly, if we optimize the trip to these destinations (by the shortest number of stops; i.e Non-stop flights), the cost is reduced on average by 30%. The order remains the same.

The optimized prices show Saint Lucia revised to $0.65USD/km, Barbados: $0.51USD/km, Trinidad & Tobago: $0.42USD/km and Jamaica: $0.35USD/km.

ALL
BARBADOS
JAMAICA
SAINT LUCIA
TRINIDAD

Note: Prices will be analyzed with the optimal stop constraint, unless otherwise specified.

Surprisingly, it’s more expensive per km on average for Caribbean travelers to travel to any of the four destinations than other travelers. In fact, on average its 54% more expensive! A Caribbean traveler can expect to pay $1.11USD/km to travel to Saint Lucia, $0.72USD/km to Barbados, $0.70USD/km to Trinidad and $0.43USD/km to Jamaica.

On the other hand, travelers outside of the Caribbean can expect to pay on average, $0.37USD/km to Barbados, $0.30USD/km to both Saint Lucia and Jamaica and, $0.22USD/km to Trinidad.

The cheapest places per km to travel from are: San Francisco to Barbados, Beijing to Jamaica, San Francisco to Saint Lucia and San Francisco to Trinidad. Very Unexpected!

The most expensive place per km to travel from:  Beijing to Barbados, Frankfurt to Jamaica, Saint Vincent to Saint Lucia and Grenada to Trinidad.

Nominal Prices

Naturally, I Don’t Budget Using USD/km!

The opposite occurs when we look at nominal prices, it’s cheaper for Caribbean travelers to travel to the destinations on average.

The cheapest places to travel from are: Dominica to Barbados, Miami to Jamaica, Barbados to Saint Lucia and Barbados to Trinidad. While the most expensive place to travel from for all the destinations was Tokyo, Japan.

 

ALL
CARIBBEAN
OTHERS

 

That’s nice, but what if you aren’t from any of those places?

On average, the best/cheapest days of the week to travel were Monday to Wednesday for all destinations with the exception of Saint Lucia, which is on Saturday. On a median basis , for all destinations the best day was Monday with the exception of Jamaica, which was observed to be Tuesday. In general, we can see that the best day of the week is generally either Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday during December 2017 to travel to Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia or Trinidad.

However, knowing the best day on average is not as useful in December as the date you choose to travel.

Let’s get even more detailed.

Generally the best time to travel to any of the destinations is within the first ten days of December, especially in the case of Barbados.

Cheapest Day to Travel

wdt_ID From Barbados Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago Saint Lucia
1 Antigua and Barbuda 07/12/2017 04/12/2017 05/12/2017 01/12/2017
2 Barbados 07/12/2017 06/12/2017 04/12/2017
3 Boston 02/12/2017 03/12/2017 04/12/2017 09/12/2017
4 India 06/12/2017 19/12/2017 19/12/2017 06/12/2017
5 Dominica 03/12/2017 11/12/2017 05/12/2017 01/12/2017
6 Dubai 03/12/2017 06/12/2017 06/12/2017 27/12/2017
7 Fort Lauderdale 04/12/2017 04/12/2017 02/12/2017 04/12/2017
8 Frankfurt 01/12/2017 07/12/2017 06/12/2017 11/12/2017
9 Guyana 05/12/2017 02/12/2017 06/12/2017 05/12/2017
10 Grenada 03/12/2017 07/12/2017 06/12/2017 03/12/2017
From

While the most expensive time to travel is usually from the middle to the end of the month.

Most Expensive Day to Travel

wdt_ID From Barbados Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago Saint Lucia
1 Antigua and Barbuda 16/12/2017 28/12/2017 18/12/2017 20/12/2017
2 Barbados 21/12/2017 01/12/2017 20/12/2017
3 Boston 19/12/2017 19/12/2017 30/12/2017 23/12/2017
4 India 22/12/2017 05/12/2017 28/12/2017 26/12/2017
5 Dominica 16/12/2017 15/12/2017 27/12/2017 10/12/2017
6 Dubai 27/12/2017 23/12/2017 17/12/2017 10/12/2017
7 Fort Lauderdale 23/12/2017 23/12/2017 27/12/2017 24/12/2017
8 Frankfurt 15/12/2017 23/12/2017 08/12/2017 14/12/2017
9 Guyana 04/12/2017 16/12/2017 29/12/2017 23/12/2017
10 Grenada 06/12/2017 21/12/2017 06/12/2017 26/12/2017
From

Price, Time and Distance

The relationship between total flight time (which allows us to take into consideration trips that are not Non-stop) and price was shown to have a strong positive correlation of +0.885. In addition, its bivariate regression showed that before distance is taken into consideration, the base price of a flight is $298USD on average. The pay as you go rate was observed to be an additional 3.5% of the base price for every hour.

In terms of only nonstop flights, a similar positive correlation of +0.822 was observed between price and flight time. On average you can expect a base price of $248USD and a pay as you go rate of an additional 7.3% per hour.

Flight price and total distance between the airports was also shown to be strongly correlated of +0.939. Furthermore, in a bivariate regression, it was observed to explain 88% of the variation in price. On average, if distance increases by 1%, price increases by 0.45% of the base price.

TIME
DISTANCE

 

I Paid for Quality!

Flight ratings to all destinations were Fair and above on average. Barbados had the highest average rating of 7.2, while Saint Lucia had the lowest with 5.5 out of 10. Trinidad and Jamaica had ratings of 7.1 and 6.8 out of 10 respectively.

On a median basis, Jamaica had the highest rating with 7.6 out of 10, Saint Lucia had the lowest rating with 5.4 out of 10 and Barbados and Trinidad ratings were 7.1 and 7.2 respectively.

Overall, flight ratings only differed by 1.1 on average from their respective means for Barbados and Trinidad. Saint Lucia’s ratings differed by 1.84 and Jamaica’s by 1.64 on average from their respective means.

As expected, total flight time was shown to have a negative relationship with flight ratings with a correlation of -0.393. Furthermore, an exponentially negative relationship was observed between the number of stops and flight ratings.

TIME
STOPS

Global Financial Centre (GFC) Flight Cost Index

Coincidentally, I happened to have six of the top ten Global Financial Centres in my sample and as such I attempted to create a flight cost index. The usefulness of this index is that it allows us to see a weighted cost of travelers from the GFCs to Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad on a comparative basis. This can be seen as a component of the cost of doing international business.

(1)   \begin{equation*}  GFCFCI = \sum_{i=1}^{N}{w_i d_i FP_i} \end{equation*}

FP_i is the average flight price from the GFC to the destination (i.e New York to Jamaica)

w_i is the GFC’s rating score divide by the total rating score of all GFCs under consideration:

(2)   \begin{equation*}  w_i = {Rating_i /\sum_{i=1}^{N}{ {Rating_i} } \end{equation*}

d_i is the Distance between the GFC and the destination (i.e Tokyo to  Barbados) divided by the total distance of all GFCs under consideration:

(3)   \begin{equation*}  d_i = {Distance_i /\sum_{i=1}^{N}{ {Distance_i} } \end{equation*}

The six Financial Centres under consideration were: London, New York, Tokyo, San Francisco, Boston and Toronto. The scores of Barbados and Jamaica were quite close, 11,870 and 11,707 respectively. Surprisingly, Trinidad score was 5,963, almost half as much as the others.

This significant difference among these countries could be attributed to many factors such as various bilateral airline agreements and flight paths.

Conclusion

Whether you are travelling to Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia or Trinidad & Tobago in December, the best time appears to be within the first ten days of the month. On average you can expect to pay between $0.35USD/km to $0.65USD/km, and in terms of USD/km it’s cheaper for non-Caribbean travelers.

On average, the base price for a ticket before taking travel time into consideration is $298USD and for nonstop flights $248USD. This results in cheaper tickets for Caribbean travelers in nominal terms to go to the destinations relative to other travelers.

As expected, price revealed a strong positive relationship with both total flight time and total distance. Flight ratings were shown to have a negative relationship with total flight time and an exponentially negative relationship with the amount of stops before the final destination.

A first glance at the Global Financial Centre Flight Cost index (GFCFCI), showed a dramatic difference between Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados. This could be a sign of underlying structural differences.

Going forward, research will be focused on the GFCFCI and the underlying structural differences among Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad. In particular, what drives the cost and how to minimize it.

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Quinn Weekes

Constantly upgrading data enthusiast with a pungent taste of Finance.

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