Hunting for cheap flights is surely a time-consuming effort that can challenge even the most committed bargain hunters. Searching across tons of booking sites comparing deals can be confusing. Thankfully, there’s a better way to land a bargain on your next flight.
Most major booking sites and travel search engines offer the option to sign up for fare alerts, which eliminate a lot of the hunting required when searching for cheap flights. Each booking company has its own fare alert, but they generally work by tracking the cost of flights over a period and notifying you of fluctuations. It’s easy, but there are a few tips that will help you secure the best deals, according to Wisebread.com
Many airlines have adopted a policy called “dynamic pricing,” (or surge pricing), which lets them maximize profits on ticket sales. The basic principle of dynamic pricing is that the cost of the flights rises, and falls based on demand. If tons of people rush at once to buy tickets, then the price will rise to reflect that demand. Once the crush has ended, prices could come down again as the airline tries to fill the remaining seats.
What this means for consumers is that it’s become more difficult to know when to book tickets. It also punishes people who can’t be flexible about when they fly, because if the specific time and date they need is in high demand, prices will also be high. On the other hand, if you’ve managed to book before a spike, you could be a step ahead of the game, Wisebread.com says.
Create alerts right away
Because of dynamic pricing, fares are constantly changing so it’s hard to have a specific time to book tickets. Some studies say that certain days of the week, like Tuesdays and Thursdays, are the cheapest days to make reservations, but usually admit that not all times of those days are optimal. Also, you may find better deals on other days of the week. Most conclude that prices are lowest four to six weeks before the flight, however, you can sometimes find great last-minute deals. Fare alerts can be created early in your vacation planning; let them do the price tracking for you.
Sign up for deals
Rather than searching for specific flights on predetermined dates, you can score serious bargains if your dates are flexible and you’re open to going anywhere. There are countless deal notifications you can sign up for from services such as Google Flights, Kayak, and Expedia. These offer different types of alerts, including fare mistakes, flash sales, and other great value opportunities.
When to buy
Several online tools use big data sets including past and current prices from millions of searches to forecast when the best time to buy. For example, searching on Kayak will bring up a box on the top left of your results that will advise you whether to buy now, watch the fare, or hold on a bit longer. None are 100 percent certain, but as the services collect more data, their forecasts will become more accurate over time, Wisebread adds.
Sign up for multiple fare comparison sites
When searching for a deal, it’s best to check a wide selection, so you can compare the deals available. Different airfare booking sites have deals and agreements with different airlines, meaning you may find completely different options with each one.
Sign up for fare alerts with a selection of sites to get the full range of offers available.
Fares vary greatly among booking engines, so the more you’re signed up for, the better chance you have of seeing the lowest possible fare for your chosen flight(s).