How do you predict airline ticket prices?
March 2, 2007 4:36 AM   Subscribe

How can you tell when to buy an airline ticket?

I've got to buy three return airline tickets. They're currently coming in at around 800, 600 and 700 ukp on expedia, but have been about 50ukp less (each) in the past. Should I snap them up now, or might they go back down again? Is there a way to tell?
posted by handee to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The surest way to ensure you'll get a seat is to just buy them.

But... If you really want to save money, look for sales that have multiple connections. If you don't mind hopping around from airport to airport.
posted by pezdacanuck at 4:55 AM on March 2, 2007

Sorry, I meant to add that there is no longer a way to predict when prices will drop other than the usual: off season, fuel pricing, charters.
posted by pezdacanuck at 4:56 AM on March 2, 2007

try using Farecast - I've had really good luck with it
posted by darsh at 4:58 AM on March 2, 2007

Sorry - just realised you're in the UK, I think farecast is for US airfares only.
posted by darsh at 5:00 AM on March 2, 2007

Response by poster: Ah farecast looks good, but unfortunately doesn't cover my start or finish destination!
posted by handee at 5:00 AM on March 2, 2007

For some reason, US airlines always have their lowest fairs on a Tuesday. Aim for that?

Also, has a little chart when you search for a flight to show how prices have changed over the last 90 days... you can get an idea of relative pricing that way.
posted by olinerd at 5:01 AM on March 2, 2007

In terms of when to buy, apparently a Wednesday three weeks before your flight is good.

In terms of when to fly, have just a launched a thing that compares the fares for several days either side of your chosen leaving and returning dates (screenshot). You have to chose 'My dates are flexible' to see this.
posted by chrismear at 5:59 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is a useful article and compendium of links - for those in the UK - which may help you to find the answer
posted by rongorongo at 6:08 AM on March 2, 2007

Second for, which shows fare trends for any fare you like (barring regional/discount carriers ie. Southwest, Ryanair).
posted by pineapple at 6:16 AM on March 2, 2007

The best thing to do would be to buy tickets now on an airline that will refund you the difference if the cost of your ticket goes down. For example, American Airlines does rollovers on international tickets which result in the fare difference being refunded to your original source of payment.

Frequently suggestions of buying on a certain day of a week are old wives' tales, or based on very old information. These days, airlines can and do adjust their fares and availability up to several times a day.

On the other hand, the day of the week on which you travel can affect the fare. Frequently there are cheaper fares for Tuesday/Wednesday travel.

Second for, which shows fare trends for any fare you like

I couldn't find the feature you describe. The "fare history" only gives recent searches. What am I missing?
posted by grouse at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2007

FareCompare has a good description of the situation.
posted by grouse at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2007

grouse: you have to search a fare, and then the fare trend shows on the upper left. From there, you can get more details or adjust the results. You don't have to be a member or logged in to access.

Here was the example I just pulled.
posted by pineapple at 7:40 AM on March 2, 2007

Thanks pineapple. Frustratingly, I had to go through several test searches before I found one for which the fare trend data was available.
posted by grouse at 7:53 AM on March 2, 2007

Interesting! I've always been able to get the info on the fares I'm searching but it might be something unique to those trips, so I guess I should amend my earlier recommendation of being able to find "any fare you like" at Kayak, huh?

I was directed to Kayak by a comment in this AskMe thread (FlyerTalk as well, come to think). Since then, I've all but abandoned Expedia/Travelocity, which formerly was the least-annoying solution because of their aggregated data and searchability.

Now, I use Kayak for preliminary research, and then book directly with the airline.
posted by pineapple at 8:08 AM on March 2, 2007

I've always been able to get the info on the fares I'm searching but it might be something unique to those trips

The data only exists for trips for which other people have been searching for too, apparently.
posted by grouse at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2007

for travel within Europe is very good
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:18 PM on March 2, 2007

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