Looking for the lowest airfare when planning a trip? Discover how to get the cheapest flights almost every time.
Traveling the world has never been so simple. Everything about your holiday can be checked out online, including your flights. The typical traveller goes to a flight comparison site, enters a destination, and begins reviewing results. Who doesn’t like finding a cheap flight ticket?
When you find a flight that’s cheap, you need to book it as quickly as possible. When you check the flight price more often, it seems like it keeps going up. Would airlines know your interests and raise the fares accordingly?
Here’s how to find insanely low fares almost every time.
What is the airline’s selection process?
Can cookies be used to increase airline fares?
Using cookies and third-party trackers to measure interest-specific routes is not a new idea for airlines and flight comparison sites. However, no airline has confirmed the practice. Likewise, price comparison sites will not confirm that they are actively gouging their customers. This would be a savage act of bad PR.
According to Skyscanner, the most popular flight comparison site, this is not true. Despite the fact that Skyscanner states they do not rely on cookies to refine flight prices, they deny it comprehensively. Flight comparison sites also confirm this.
There would be air travel whistleblowers and senators rushing to the microphone if airlines raised prices by using browser cookies (targeted individually), according to FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney. Customers who shop more than once may see price changes as a reflection of changes in inventory, data caching techniques, and the fact that prices generally increase closer to the departure date, even within a single day.
Ricky Radka, an analyst for Airfarewatchdog, says “What happens is that the closer we get to departure date, the more people start to look-and that’s when prices are going to go up.”.
Nevertheless, prices can change within minutes.es appear to change within minutes, much to the chagrin of consumers on the hunt for crazy cheap flights.
Many airlines use dynamic pricing and profiling to market to certain prospects.
Despite all the airlines’ claims to the contrary, there are some strong indications to the contrary.
PROS, the provider of airline revenue management software, confirmed that many of its clients now use dynamic pricing in 2018.
Customers’ individual flight prices differ based on their location, customer accounts, previous flight data, and shopping trends. Dynamic pricing structures also take into account customer accounts, previous flight data, and previous shopping trends. Among PROS’ clients are Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Emirates, Southwest, among others.
The current number of classes is 26 for each airline. (literally) There are 26 classes in total. Domestic flight rates are updated four times per day, and international flight rates are updated hourly.
Since the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the current flight pricing structure has been in place. In spite of this, airlines are finding it challenging to move away from that system–but now is the time to do so.
The Cost of Dynamic Pricing in Flight
Dynamic fare pricing is causing some concern among many people. Dynamic pricing presents a number of challenges, including tracking and grading individual customers, which will undoubtedly lead to discriminatory flight fares.
Systematic analysis of any system that determines whether a customer qualifies for a particular price is essential. As a result, the backend of such a system is never going to be revealed, because it could expose shady and discriminatory practices.
“Algorithms can exacerbate bias or have unexpected discriminatory effects,” Consumer Reports, formerly Consumers Union, wrote in a report from 2018.
In October 2016, Consumer Reports reported finding “42 pairs of different prices for the same websites on separate browsers retrieved simultaneously.”
The report led to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling the situation “a sad state of affairs that might just violate consumer protections.”
Profiling flight routes
Flight route profiling has existed for a long time. For instance, a flight from London to Lanzarote is primarily marked for leisure. Airlines know that demand during school holiday periods will dramatically increase.
They also know that parents will look to find the best deals months in advance and as such, prices around those periods remain high, despite the number of available seats and current demand.
A switch to dynamic profiling is unlikely to change this scenario. It could, however, impact in other ways.
If you’re checking out flights on a high-end Mac, in San Francisco, the dynamic pricing might assume you have higher income and show you higher prices. How about checking prices for a return overnight trip from New York to Chicago?
Dynamic pricing might assume you’re a business person, check your previous flight purchase history, and show you the price knowing that you will pay it regardless of cost.
How to find cheap flights: 5 hacks.
Getting a flight for a bargain is everyone’s dream. But these deals are hard to come by. The odd flight ticket with a huge discount might turn up from time to time. Prices of airline tickets are determined by demand and proximity to the flight.
You can, however, save some money by using a few tricks.
1. Look for cheaper flights by using a VPN
By using a VPN, you can change your location if the airlines use dynamic profiling. You may use iTop VPN to do so.
Here are a few examples of price differences I found using iTop VPN, with the locations and the differences. I ran the same price comparisons using a fresh ubuntu Linux installation, with a completely new browser.’
The prices for the iTop VPN Hong Kong server are based on Google’s ATX Matrix, as Google Flights aren’t available in Hong Kong.
There are a few things that become apparent right away.
- The prices of Google Flights are extremely constant across locations. When you use Google Flights, you should learn how to save money by using their alerts.
- Discounts were uncovered when buying cheap airline tickets from the Netherlands using a VPN.
- With one or two notable exceptions, discounts typically range only between tens and hundreds of dollars. Even so, these savings do add up if you’re booking cheap flights for several family members.
- Cheaper flights cannot always be found when using a VPN.
It is important to note this point. You will need to experiment with different locations in order to find the best discounts if you are using a VPN. The discounts will also vary depending on the destination. You may receive a discount when using the VPN server and flight combination at one time but not at another.
2. Have a flexible approach to finding cheap flights.
You need to be flexible to find a good deal on flights. It’s much easier to find the cheapest dates for your destination if you can travel at any time.
In the event that you are not able to travel at any time (the reality for most of us), try to remain flexible with your destination. When using Skyscanner or other flight comparison sites, click on the Cheapest Month option and choose “Everywhere.” It will show you the cheapest locations and the cheapest month from your departure city.
The deals are always out there. However, you have to take a broader view of the travel industry to spot them.
3. Verify airline ticket prices.
Airlines make mistakes from time to time. There’s a mistake in the price update, and suddenly you’re flying for $40 round-trip to Seychelles. There are not that many airline fare errors, but if you catch one, you can save a lot of money.
Cathay Pacific sold $16,000 business class tickets for $675 from Da Nang, Vietnam, to New York recently as an example.
There is a website called Secret Flying where you can check for airline fare errors. In the event of an airline fare error, they publish it as soon as possible, hopefully before their mistake is discovered.
But the mistake fare is not always honored by some airlines. It is at the airlines’ discretion whether to honor this fare. Additionally, ultra-cheap airfares are less and less likely to exist in the future. Many of these errors result from human error: a slipped key, a misplaced decimal point, etc.
With the move to automation, airlines can no longer rely on manual input for price updates (which makes sense), as well as updates to airline pricing systems, like ATPCO. Over 400 airlines are served by the Airline Tariff Publishing Co (ATPCO). Their system recently changed to speed up the process of fixing a fare mistake; now it takes only 15 minutes instead of an hour to fix a mistake for domestic flights, and just 1 hour for international flights.
Despite this, there will still be mistake fares, so be ready to take advantage when they appear.
4. Schedule your flights ahead of time and on certain days.
It’s not a good deal to me, and it’s not a good deal to other online flight specialists either. But you’ll try anything in order to find cheap flights, right?
It’s always a good idea to book your flights in advance. Flights are best booked between three and six months before departure, although the figures vary.
It is best to book your flight early on a Wednesday morning or late on a Tuesday evening, according to Airfarewatchdog. Typically, carriers release new sales late on a Monday morning or Tuesday morning. You might be able to snag a cheap flight ticket as the new fares filter through the market.
5. Sign up for airfare price alerts.
Now is the time to use flight price tracking alerts if you haven’t already. There is a way to set price alerts so you’ll be notified when the flight ticket prices reach a certain level of discount for a particular destination (or even a bunch!).
We know it’s hard to find flights that are so cheap. But you can find a great deal on cheap flights. The key is to figure out what you consider to be a great deal. Is it 10% off of $100? Or maybe 70% off of a $500 fare?
You will be less likely to get frustrated if you don’t find a bonkers flight discount, but rather more likely to enjoy a cheap fare when it pops up.
How do you figure this out? Always compare cheap flight ticket comparison sites across all of your options. If you don’t know how to use Google Flights, read our tips here.
Check out these additional tips for planning a great vacation with friends if you’re shopping for flights.