We've all danced with airline fares; two steps forward, one step back, not knowing when to purchase the flight we're eyeing. Don't fret my pet: with the explosion of DIY travel, we have access to hundreds of websites which can predict the best time to buy, help us find the best rate and even alert us of discounts after we purchase our fare. Here are some online tools and rules next time you purchase an airline ticket on the internet: 15-Day Rule According to Giorgos Zacharia, Ph.D., KAYAK's Chief Scientist, he observed that semi-advanced booking is advisable, but to avoid being a keener. Analyzing the data generated from KAYAK's millions of daily searches, his team found: - the date-range KAYAK users have been finding the best prices is between 4-weeks and 1-week in advance - the most reasonable price 15-days before departure with prices rising in the last two weeks - the same-day booking price was closer to the 15-day than 365-day mark - the most expensive fare was recorded 365 days before departure
Mid-Week Sale Wait to buy your airline fare until Tuesday or Wednesday. The majority of airlines launch fare sales on these days.
Be Flexible I know that flexibility is hard-to-come-by with the small windows of vacation time employers in North America afford (I think we could learn something--actually many things--from the Europeans), but even shifting your flights slightly (leaving a day or two early and/or coming home a day or two later) can seriously impact your fare. I've saved a bundle on multiple flights with a slight date adjustment. Just think, that's money saved or a nice dinner or two extra at your destination.
Email Set up a fare alert via email. Companies from KAYAK to Trip Advisor to airfarewatchdog have created tools that track fares by flight route, departure point and destination. All you need to do is go to one of these sites, enter the route you wish to track and you'll receive weekly emails updating you with the best dates and costs.
Not all is Lost Did you purchase a flight and now you're worried about the price dropping? If so, consider Yapta next time you fly. Here's how it works: enter your flight details, if refunds are available they email you, then you can claim the difference.
[photo by david jones]