Friday, October 2, 2015

A Quick Q&A: Predicting Airlines Fares

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Customer Question:
I'm looking to book airline tickets to Florida over Easter and flights are about $400 a pop. I've heard there are certain times that are better than others to book them. TIA

FTC Answer:
I own a travel agency, Family Travel Concierge, which specializes in UNIQUE vacation experiences around the world. If this price is within your budget- buy the tickets! The prices can go up and down a few times a day and NOBODY can predict when the best time to buy is with 100% certainty (and if they claim they do, they’re lying).

If you want to obtain airline fares at specific prices, try placing alerts on Expedia, Tripadvisor, and Kayak. It can be a very taxing and time-consuming exercise. Also I am not sure where in Florida you are looking to fly, as alternative airports are also an option. For example, if you are vacationing in south Florida, you can consider flying into Fort Lauderdale, Miami or West Palm Beach. Also, if you live in the Northeast, don’t limit yourself to only on airport such as JFK; make sure to check flights out of Connecticut and Boston as well (just keep in mind overnight parking costs).

To summarize, you can scan the Internet and find all sorts of studies that claim they know when the optimal time to buy airline tickets is, however as I mentioned above, NOBODY can predict it for sure.

There are so many factors that come into play when trying to finalize airfare prices- oil (which most airlines hedge in the future), stability of the current economy, seasonal demand, and so on.

I should mention that within the last several months I read two totally contradicting studies- one points to Tuesday being the best day to buy while the other claims Saturday. In my personal experience, when I include airline tickets (ALL destinations ALL over the world) in my destination vacations to clients, I have sold the 'cheapest' tickets on ALL days of the week; sometimes Saturdays, sometimes Mondays, and so on.

Another popular myth is the “advanced 14 day purchase” - all these articles on CNN, various travel sites, etc. claim a certain number of days in advance is needed to save the most money on airline fares when in fact this is not correct. Some of the best airline fares can be found within a few days of departure, specifically to popular vacation destinations during off peak travel times.  

In the grand scheme, when taking a family vacation, no one will remember paying $2,567 or $2,756. BUT, you will remember the overall experience and the smiles on your family’s faces (or so we hope). 


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