This month we are going to discuss something that has confused mankind for years, airline pricing and scheduling. I will try to explain these things in layman’s language.
Let’s start with the fact that airline pricing can and often does change every day. You can price a particular flight one day and the next day that same flight will be a completely different price. Airline ticket prices, legally, can change multiple times a day.
The main reason air prices change is the fact that there can be multiple classes of service on every flight. This means that the airline may have have a class of service that provides 15 seats at a certain price. Once those 15 seats are sold out the price moves to the next highest class of service and price. In the next class of service the airline may have another 15 seats at a higher price. Once those seats are sold out it moves to the next higher class of service and price. You get the idea. There can be 15 or 20 different seat prices for the same flight depending on when the ticket was purchased and what class of service it was in. Prices do occasionally do go down when the flight is not selling but this has become a rare situation.
Airlines have come up with a method to insure flights remain full therefore prices do not come down. They have figured out how many flights they need to a particular destination and they regulate the number of flights to insure all their flights remain full. The day of discounted flights are all but gone.
Next we will explain the myth of using websites to find the cheapest flights. You can use websites to find cheaper flights but you cannot find the exact same flights at different prices. Flight A has a certain schedule. Flight A will have the same price regardless of the website. What the website will do is give you a flight option with a different schedule for a lower price. Flight A for $350 may leave at 9:00 AM and arrive at 1:00 PM non-stop. The flight they give you for less money, $275, may leave at 8:30 AM and arrive at 3:00 PM with 1 connection. When comparing flights, make sure you pay particular attention to the schedule of the flights you see. If you see a +1, it means you will not arrive until the next day.
There is another issue you will have to contend with and that is schedule changes. I have seen up to 10 schedule changes for a particular flight. Schedule changes can incorporate many things such as flight number changes, schedule changes, and equipment changes. You have to make sure when you receive a schedule change from the airline you understand what type of change it is and what you need to do about it. If in doubt call the airline. Also realize that when it is an equipment change it can have an impact on your seat assignment. We automatically handle schedule changes for our clients.
There really are no discounted flights any more other than charter flights that a number of travel agent suppliers offer.
Bottom line is the sooner you purchase flights the better price you are going to receive. If you are within 2 weeks of travel be prepared to pay a premium price in today’s world of airlines tickets. Airlines have scheduled their flights to insure they are all full so they do not have to offer discounted tickets.
When shopping for airline tickets, if you are not ready to purchase right away, be prepared for the price to change. It can change the same day of the next day but sooner than later it will change.
Last point to remember is make sure, when you are looking at flights and prices, you look closely at the schedules of the flights you are researching. A low price usually indicates the worst flight times.
Be sure, when you receive a schedule change for a flight you purchased, you understand what the change is and what you need to do about it.
When we research flights for our clients we try to balance the schedule and the price.