It’s a familiar story: you have found a good bargain for a flight ticket to your dream holiday destination, but do not need to commit to purchasing it just yet. Three days later, you make up your mind, so you whip out your credit card — but the things of nightmares came true; the deal has vanished along with the flight has gone from being a steal into being out of your finances, leaving you wracked with guilt.
Read on to prevent this horrible fate and equip yourself with a few of the basic whys and hows of flight cost changes. We talked to Alex Astafiev, the Primary Product Manager here at Skyscanner, to understand what really continues behind the scenes so that you’ll have the low-down on the way to snag great flight prices for your holiday vacations.
Why do flight costs go up and down?
When you are booking your next flight, it is important to know that prices vary. These price changes signify how airlines react to sales and external factors, with the aim of filling their airplanes. In contrast to popular belief, and very similar to stock prices, flight costs are affected by sales numbers rather than search volumes. So however many times you hit the refresh button on a particular path, know that you’re not driving up the price by doing this.
Am I getting a good deal?
The only way to understand whether you’re obtaining a good flight bargain is understanding the average price for that specific route, for this specific season or month. Get knowledgeable about the usual prices before you commit. When you spot a price that is a lot lower than usual, act quickly and grab the ticket. If prices seem higher than normal, you are able to wait some time before making your purchase. Monitor the fares for cost drops — but do not wait until the very final minute. Need assistance? We have made this job easier for you via our Cost Alerts feature. Simply set one up and we will keep an eye on the prices for you.
Airlines decide on a price range based on how much customers are willing to pay for the tickets. Decide on a price range which you are familiar with because it is important to know what you are willing to fork out. If a specific ticket is outside of your reach, think carefully and check out alternative dates and routes to locate a price which satisfies you.
They move up and down frequently. A day using a large number of reservations can drive the prices up, but do note that there are many algorithms and permutations that enter pricing. Apart from sales, it might be the plane model, the number of chairs, the demand for this path, etc..
The closer you get to the departure date, the more likely that ticket fares increase. This may not always be true, but airlines typically protect some seats for’late availability’ bookings as part of the pricing plan. These chairs cater to last-minute travelers who need to be at a particular place at a certain time and will pay a premium to do so.
Airlines don’t have the capacity of utilizing cookies to shift their prices for specific customers. Contrary to popular belief, moving incognito in your search will not help you to save a cent!
How can airlines control ticket rates?
Airlines have two goals. Primarily, they want to fill the airplane. Second, they wish to fill it . To be able to achieve those goals, airlines have to manage their ticket prices through a process called yield management.
Airlines allocate different’buckets’, or ticket price levels on every flight. That RM200 return flights to Bangkok provided by an airline does exist, but there are probably just a few seats available at that price; after seats at the price level sell out, tickets will be transferred to another pricing level.
With airlines unable to fly smaller planes if just half their seats are reserved, they ought to be certain they’re able to fill it. Airlines know which chairs sell best at particular times annually (e.g. school holidays) and they’re fully aware of the harder periods to market tickets (e.g. rainy season in Bali). Based on their information, they correct their buckets, or cost levels, so. Think fewer deals during hot flying periods and much more bargains throughout silent travel periods.
You also need to notice that these initial bucket allocations can change depending on whether tickets are sold at the degree the airline initially predicted according to their historical statistics. Therefore, if an airline believed a flight to Japan in March would sell nicely, but is really selling poorly, the airline may increase the feasibility of tickets in a lesser priced bucket, meaning more value-for-money tickets for passengers!
A tourist can afford to plan his holiday and book weeks ahead to secure a great deal, but a business traveller is likely to reserve tickets close to the passing and pay full fare. This is how the airline determines how many tickets will be available at rock bottom rates. This process is known as control of inventory, and this is the way airlines try to increase profits on each flight they function.
Why do prices differ between airlines and online travel agents?
They make agreements where they devote to bringing in a particular volume of sale at the personal fare.
OTAs may undercut the airline cost by a certain sum — as little as $1 — in order to entice customers and have the opportunity to provide them their choice of hotels, car rentals, or additional providers.
OTAs may devote the cost they reveal their prospective customers — even if the actual cost has changed in the background, and even while other programs have already displayed an updated price.
With more automation and less human interference in yield management, recent studies show that it currently makes hardly any difference that day you buy your ticket. In fact, costs vary by approximately 1% just across the week.
Generally, the ideal time to book long-haul flights would be four to six weeks before death.
How do you get the best flight rates? And how can Skyscanner help you do just that?
Thankfully for you, we love getting into the nitty-gritty of flight pricing and have built some resources that will help you make sense of it. Aside from banking on experience or trial and error, there are certain best practices you can adopt.
Know what cost is right for you
If you understand what the average cost is, you are already 1 step ahead. Decide on the range you are comfortable with, then wait for the prices to go down. Take notice that during the high season and public holidays, the average cost for the road will be at the end of this spectrum.
To make matters simpler for you, we’ve built price graphs and this handy traffic lighting system (red, orange or green) to tell you if what you are seeing is a good price.
If you like to go old-school, we have also rounded up the best paths from Kuala Lumpur for you to view the typical prices at a glance. You could also click on the links below to find the price tendency. You can also check out cheap Flights
Keep Your Eye on the price — or use Skyscanner Price Alerts
As soon as you know the ordinary flight price for your desired path, you can sit and wait till the purchase price falls in your budget range. Make sure you set up a price alert for your trip so you’ll be informed when the price drops.
Keep it flexible
Flexibility comes in several forms. It might be the arrival or departure time, requiring more layovers, traveling non-peak dates, or perhaps going to a different location. We have rounded up our finest traveling tools to do precisely that: Cheapest Month Search, Sponsored Lookup, and Multi-City Search.
Know what your time is worth
Alex shares he doesn’t obsess too much about flight prices; he will create his bookings when he places it in the lower end of his ideal price range.
After all, you might not wish to camp in the front of your computer for hours and hours, waiting for a cheap flight to drop in your laptop? Saving a few bucks isn’t worth the pain of monitoring flight prices carefully.
That’s the reason you need to use our price alert attribute! In Skyscanner, we’ve spent hours building our resources and optimizing them for you. This way, you can’t need to agonize over the changes in flight costs.