Rescheduling air travel to save $
May 29, 2012 12:48 AM   Subscribe

I was pleasantly surprised today to find out that some flights I had booked a month ago for my family to travel later this year had come down dramatically in price, so even with the change fee of $150 a head, the savings was quite large and I got a better flight to boot. How often does this happen, and should a person routinely screen for lowered fares even after purchasing a ticket?
posted by dougiedd to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There are even websites that will automate the process of checking for you. The one I've used is Yapta but there are others. If you purchase tickets far in advance, you will often see rates drop. If you typically purchase 6 weeks out, you are not very likely to see it.
posted by Lame_username at 2:54 AM on May 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

It happens all the time. The farther out in time the more the airline is relying upon a statistical predictive model for seat demand. If actual ticket purchases run slower than predicted, than the computers will lower the price, up until the last week or two before depature, when the airline will actually take the hit of unsold seats rather than allowing customers to have their cake (low fare) and eat it too (no advanced purchase). The thinking is that not imposing that discipline would in the long run "train" customers not to buy in advance, which would be very bad for revenue.
posted by MattD at 5:55 AM on May 29, 2012

I should qualify that on US domestic routes, it's pretty unusual for the drop in fare actually to cover the change fee ... was your trip an international one, or a fare that didn't comply with leisure rules (e.g., no Saturday stay-over).
posted by MattD at 5:56 AM on May 29, 2012

This happens all the time. And you're right to keep an eye on prices and change when you can.

It's hard to game if you are doing a group of tickets. But when traveling alone, I use the "free 24-hour hold" system of the airline. I reserve and hold, but don't buy; the held ticket usually will expire at midnight the following day. Often I do this with tickets a few times, and go in fresh and check ticket prices, which fluctuate daily. (American Airlines, for one, seems to adjust their ticket prices around 7 p.m. EST.) Usually I can beat my held fare if I wait it out a few days. Sometimes I totally can't.

That being said, it's not a game to play when you either 1. can't afford to get hosed with increases if you mess up and your held ticket expires or 2. can't accidentally destroy a family vacation.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:17 AM on May 29, 2012

trip was a multi-flight DOMESTIC
posted by dougiedd at 9:28 AM on May 29, 2012

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