Find cheap airline tickets with vigilance, technology and luck

airfare pricing trends

To find cheap airline tickets, plan ahead, buy early, check weekly airfare pricing trends and take advantage of technology. Image: lemoncat1/Flickr

To find cheap airline tickets, it’s best to study airfare pricing trends, do your homework and remain vigilant. Airlines offer a certain percentage of seats at a discount to fill planes, but they don’t want to make it too easy. Because airfares are in a constant state of flux, finding cheap airline tickets takes timing and a little bit of luck.

Finding the cheapest airfares is a challenge

Airlines can change ticket prices several times a day. To know when the cheapest airfares are available, it’s best to sign up for e-mail alerts on travel web sites that track constantly changing airfares. Some travel web sites also help you to stay informed about airfare pricing trends, fees and surcharges. The earlier you purchase airfares, the better. Having that flexibility expands your options, especially if you want to borrow money with a short term loan to take advantage of savings on a dream vacation. Airlines start marketing the cheapest airfares about four months ahead. Planning ahead also helps you identify trends to determine when the cheapest airfares are available.

Airfare pricing trends

When you can’t plan ahead, savvy travelers say the cheapest day to buy airline tickets is Wednesday. Airfare pricing typically goes through a one-week cycle. Most sales, in which seats can be discounted up to 25 percent, begin Monday night. A discount carrier such as AirTran will offer a deal, and its competitors will match the price. Airlines often try to bump up airfares across the board on Thursday night. Such behavior makes Wednesday from midnight to 1 a.m., in the time zone of the airline’s home base, a good time to buy. That’s when airlines dump reserved low-fare reservations that aren’t booked. Get online late at night to snap up these opportunities because they go fast.

Going, going, gone …

The weekly airfare cycle is a relic of the time when airlines advertised daily sales in the newspaper and travel agencies sold tickets Monday through Friday. Sales launched early in the week gave time for the word to get out. Sales launched at the end of the week didn’t get noticed. The pattern still holds, even though the Internet lets airlines sell their own fares and screaming deals can pop up in Twitter tweets on smartphones anytime. It won’t be long before airfare prices are unpredictable. Ultimately, to find the cheapest airfares, you need technology on your side.

Sources

MarketWatch

ABC News

Seeking Alpha

Other recent posts by bryanh