Scoring the Cheapest Airline Flights, Guaranteed
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) There is no worse feeling than coming to grips with the reality that you paid more for your middle seat coach ticket than anybody else on the plane. Even if it's not true, you fear it is.
Nobody wants to be that guy and here's the promise: read on to discover the tips that are proven to deliver well-priced airline seats.
Case in point: "Last March I got two non-stops on Hawaiian Air to Honolulu from JFK - for under $400 apiece," said Andrew Young with what sounded like gloat in his voice. "That's usually an $800 ticket."
How did he do it? He's an executive at deals site Travelzoo and, accordingly, he's signed up for his employer's alerts. "That's a first rule: always sign up for alerts with the providers and carriers you want to do business with," said Young.
He added: "Airlines have unadvertised fare sales. Pricing can change minute by minute. Prices may drop unannounced, especially in markets where there is competition." And that, he said, is why you need to "always be checking, ABC."
Another reason to ABC - there really are no dependable global rules for scoring the cheapest flights, said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, which is something of a big data project that aims to uncover the best travel deals. To that end, Hopper daily collects "around one billion priced round trips," said Surry.
Hopper crunches that data and discerns patterns, one of which is that he debunks the standard advice to "never shop on [name the day] because it is more expensive."
"The day you shop on makes very little or any difference in flight pricing," said Surry.
"The key factors in ticket pricing are the day you fly on and the market."
Most cheap ticket advice neglects the differences markets play and that is why rules like never fly on a Sunday or Wednesdays are cheapest - both commonly said - are not true, at least not universally.
"Pricing a Boston to London ticket by day - that's a largely business traveler route - is very different from pricing a Spring Break ticket," Surry elaborated.
New Orleans, for instance, is heavy on weekend vacationers, but midweek business travelers are scarce. A Houston not so much- it's mainly business travelers without a lot of weekenders. After that it gets obvious. Flying to Houston on Monday will cost a packet, whereas flying to New Orleans on a Tuesday will be a bargain.
Bottomline: to get the best fares, monitor the alerts and also check and check again, at sites such as Hipmunk and Kayak which, said multiple frugal fliers, often produce the best deals.
But don't check yourself into a higher priced ticket by dithering and delaying. Advance purchase has its rewards.