Seat Sale: 3 Expert Tips on Booking Your Flights During Low-fare Offers
Airlines have been regularly offering best deals for flights that these offers don’t look as exciting as they were before.
But nevertheless, these fares are so low that it’s always tempting to get carried away and make the booking. But wait, that’s not even the best deal on offer.
“Sometimes you’ll find lower prices, but don’t assume when any airline announces a sale that’s the best deal,” said George Hobica, founder of travel website Airfarewatchdog.com. “Sometimes there are even lower prices lurking in the reservation system.”
The question now is how to mine the reservation system of these steal deals.
Among the common factors in driving a discounted airfare offer are the seat supply and demand, prevailing fuel prices and currency exchange. As a result, cheapest flights are typically offered on less popular days like Tuesdays and Saturdays and only a portion of seats are allocated for such sale price. The
Like anything having to do with fare bookings, sales are subject to the complexities of supply and demand, with the cheapest flights being offered on less popular travel days like Tuesdays and Saturdays. Typically, only a portion of seats on a given flight are sold at the special sale price as the government sets a specific ratio of 10% of seats on a flight be made available for such purpose. But these seats are sold quickly, as expected.
But whether there is an announced flight sale or not, Hobica and Rick Seaney of FareCompare has tips for the discerning air traveler.
1. Check in the afternoon of the first day of sale.
Why so? Most airline sales are offered starting Tuesdays or Thursdays. Obviously we all want to grab the seat before others do so, but Seaney said it’s also worthy for customers to wait until the afternoon to see if other airlines try to match a competitor’s low-fare offer.
“You really don’t want to shop until the afternoon on Tuesday because you want to give the other airlines time to match it. That’s when you’ll see the maximum number of seats available,” he said.
Give it a try, even if you’re not planning to book anytime soon.
2. Make use of fare calendars and alerts.
Just as a sale announcement automatically generates interest and demand for cheap tickets surge, they may not be the best deal at all. In fact, sometimes the best airfare deals are unadvertised.
“When they have a sale it’s usually over a longer period, but you might find a short-term deal on a flight leaving next week,” Hobica said. “The airlines every day have unadvertised price reductions, mainly when there are only a few seats available.”
When flights still have seizable seats available closer to flight schedule, the low-fare offers can pop up at any instant.
It can be a time-consuming exercise so both Hobica and Seaney recommend travelers to use tools like fare calendars shown on airline websites that display lowest prices over a range of dates.
“People need to realize a fare can go down unadvertised any day of the week and they often beat the sale prices. People shouldn’t take advertised sale as gospel that that’s the rock bottom price,” Hobica said.
3. For group travelers, book tickets one or two at a time.
In some cases, a glitch can happen that when you book a flight for a party of four, fares are not as low as advertised. However, when you book one or two at a time, lower prices show up.
That’s because more likely than not, airlines will have one or two remaining seats available at the sale price, but if a customer is searching for a group of four tickets, only the higher price will appear.
“It’s a weird glitch in reservation systems,” Seaney said. “Try shopping for one and if you see that sale price, you know there’s a few cheaper seats available. You can split the ticket so maybe two in the family get the sale price.”