Gambling on air travel
September 18, 2006 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Farecast is telling us to wait to buy tickets to Las Vegas for next weekend -- they have 58% confidence that the price will go down. How late can we wait and still be sure to get tickets?

Round trip fare from DC to Vegas is now running somewhere around $360 /person, and only 4 or 5 days ago (before NortonDC and I had decided to go) the fares were down around $215. If there's a chance they'll go down, we'd like to save the cash, but we don't want to wait so late that we lose our chance to go and watch jonmc and pips get married (and celebrate our own anniversary with some cirque du soleil and sightseeing).

So hive mind, can you give us advice on when they might run out of tickets altogether? Also, has anyone had good or bad experiences with the reliability of Farecast's predictions? (I've seen the MeFi post re its launch.) As far as we can tell, there are no conventions in Vegas that week. Thanks, in advance!
posted by onlyconnect to Travel & Transportation around Botswana (7 answers total)
Best answer: Which dates are you using exactly? You mean the weekend after the upcoming one?

Various fares require different advance purchase requirements. The cheapest journey right now on ITA Software's web page ($257.40) consists of an AirTran Q7FL one-way fare combined with a JetBlue M14 fare for the return. The first number in the fare code frequently (and in these particular cases) indicates the advance purchase requirement. So tomorrow you will no longer be able to buy the M14 for Monday 2OCT.

there's a chance they'll go down, we'd like to save the cash, but we don't want to wait so late that we lose our chance to go and watch jonmc and pips get married

Even if following Farecast's recommendations would save one money in the long run (which remains to be determined), it would be hard to guess for any particular case. If it's important that you go to the wedding and you won't be able to ensure that if the price goes up, then I wouldn't screw around. Just buy now.
posted by grouse at 8:14 AM on September 18, 2006

Buy them when you can, not when you have to. It will be cheaper if you are putting a price on uncertainty and the risk of not getting tix.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:14 AM on September 18, 2006

Best answer: Think about it this way. At 58%, there's almost an equally likely chance that the price will hold or even go up! Even then, if they go down, who's to say if they won't just drop by $5 or some trivial amount.

I think Farecast works well for macro predictions (months from now) but I highly doubt any level of accuracy at the micro level (day-to-day).

You're talking about next weekend.. typically airline prices have already dropped as much as they will go (prices usually started coming down at 21 days). Around 3 weeks in, airlines bring down the price to fill the plane but when you're getting really close to the date, they start to go back up to make the last-minute travelers pay dearly.

I'd buy the tickets now if you really want to go.
posted by junesix at 10:10 AM on September 18, 2006

Hey, I live in Vegas and I'd suggest to buy your tix now. The LVCVA is always updating their convention calendar, so check it out. There is always something going on even when you think there isn't. The important thing is to get here, enjoy the wedding, and have a GREAT time. :)
posted by PsychoKitty at 11:01 AM on September 18, 2006

All I'm going to say is to check out Site59 because they have amazing deals on last-minute, this weekend or next travel.

They force you to bundle, either with a hotel or car, but you'll be shocked at how cheap things can get there.
posted by disillusioned at 1:50 PM on September 18, 2006

Just a heads up based on my recent experience with Farecast. A couple weeks ago I was looking for a cheap ticket from DC (IAD) to SF. Farecast listed the cheapest non-stop for over $400 RT. I went to the United site and I got it for $258 RT.

I would love to have confidence in Farecast but after this experience I'm not so sure.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 2:12 PM on September 18, 2006

Response by poster: Update: after the many comments urging us to BUY NOW, that's what I did, even though Farecast was suggesting we wait, and boy am I glad we did. Had we not, we would not have been able to sit together, and -- one day away from the day we fly out -- prices still have not dropped but in fact have gone up. We probably also would not have been able to get direct flights, but would have had layovers, too. So, thanks, AskMe.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2006

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