The XX Factor

Women Are Great at Adulting, Book Work Flights Two Days Earlier Than Men

Left to right: Bad planner, good planner, bad planner.

Dmitriy Shironosov/Thinkstock

A new study of 6.4 million business-travel flight bookings has confirmed what many have long suspected: Women are responsible, with-it employees who save their companies money just by having their collective acts together.

Economists from Arizona State University and Ohio State University teamed up with data scientists at Carlson Wagonlit Travel to analyze how people book their air travel for work. They studied the 2014 habits of 1.8 million people, 30 percent of whom were women, and found that women book business flights an average of two days earlier than men. They also paid an average $113 less per ticket.

When the researchers controlled for route, seating class, time, and date, women’s savings attributable to early planning shrunk to $17 per ticket, about 2 percent of the airfare. (The men might have chosen more expensive seats and more convenient times, making them culpable for their higher prices in more ways than just their procrastination, but the report doesn’t address that possibility.) In a large, multinational organization with 21,000 employees taking four trips each per year, the authors estimate, women would save the company more than $1 million a year just by booking earlier than their male counterparts. Or, to look at it another way, the men would cost the company an extra $1 million by waiting later to book their flights.

Women book their travel earlier than their male peers in every age group; travelers aged 25 to 29 showed the smallest gender gap of any age bracket. As people get older, men and women both book their flights increasingly earlier. Among travelers who take more than 20 trips per year, there is barely any gender gap in planning—neither gender books very far in advance. The gender gap is largest, nearly five days, among people who take just one trip per year.

The report surmises that women might book their flights earlier because women experience more work-travel–related stress than men do, especially in the days or weeks leading up to a work trip. Booking travel further in advance could help alleviate the stress of planning for a trip. Now if only there were some worthy place for all those company savings to go …