Flight pricing is one of the most fickle and unpredictable things known to man. With homes, automobiles, furniture, and even sporting event tickets, the pricing usually has a steady trend. That trend is either going UP or it is going DOWN, and it is usually gradual. Not so with airline tickets, they seem to have a mind of their own. I am going to show you how you can try to keep the upper-hand when it comes to getting the BEST deal on your next flight.
Based on the analytics from Cheapair.com, the best time to buy your ticket is 54 days before departure. We have a saying in the travel industry called YMMV, that means Your Mileage May Vary. Just because the data says 54 days on average is the best time to buy does not mean that will always be the case for your flight. Enter: Google
I was looking for a flight back to the West Coast from either Copenhagen or Stockholm this coming September. I used Google Flights price tracker to be notified when the price dipped to a level I found “cheap”. As I write this post, the price of my flight from ARN to LAX is $198 at 56 days out. The lowest price of this flight was $152 at about 65 days out. That being said, the flight has ranged in price from as high as $367 to as low as $152, all within a one week period. That is really frustrating if you happened to buy the ticket when it was at its highest point.
As you can see from the graph, the pricing flow is really unpredictable. By the way, can you believe there are $152 one-way flights from Sweden to Los Angeles? Check out Norwegian Air!
Here is another flight example that shows pricing data from 50 days out all the way until the day of departure. A JetBlue flight from Boston to Phoenix was priced as low as $140 up to $425 on the day of departure. This flight followed more of a typical pricing trend, but not all do.
So here is where it gets good. Google Price Tracker will notify you of any pricing changes in real-time! Using Google Now, you will receive alerts to your ‘cards’ on either Android or iOS phones. I highly recommend setting up an alert for the flight you are interested in so you don’t miss out on a steal-of-a-deal price. I have seen flight prices dip for just a few hours and then shoot right back up to the original price.
Another thing to remember, airlines will only sell a select number of seats at the lower price and then jack up the price as inventory decreases. Make sure to choose the accurate number of passengers when shopping for or tracking flights. There is nothing worse than going to book a ticket, adding a few more passengers, and then seeing the prices JUMP!
Pro tip: If the pricing does jump when inputting multiple passengers (IE: booking more seats) you can try to book each passenger using completely separate web browsers and then click “submit” at the same time on each browsing session. Sometimes it will work and other times it will tell you the seat is no longer available. It is worth a try.
If you are booking a flight that starts or ends in the United States you are given 24 hours to cancel the flight with no penalty. There is one catch, this free cancellation policy only applies if the flight is booked more than 7 days before the departure date. Why did I mention this? Many times when there is smoking flight deals or error sales they sell out very fast. If you see a really good price on a flight that starts or end in the USA, you can book it right away and you have 24 hours to think about it and make plans with no risk. Take advantage of this flexibility!