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Those Crazy Changing Flight Prices!!
Old 04-07-2017, 08:30 PM   #1
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Those Crazy Changing Flight Prices!!

A couple of weeks ago I started tracking a flight I was planning to buy soon. I usually start tracking 6 to 8 weeks ahead for domestic flights, and depending, can usually get pretty a pretty good price as long as I buy about 1 month in advance.

This recent experience was a bit different. For one thing, the prices were quite a bit better than I saw last year. We used to be able to routinely fly to ATL for $280-$360 per person, but for some reason for 2016 the prices were quite a bit higher for most of the year.

So this year, I was pleased to see a drop back to the "historical range" even if at the high end with both UA and AA offering $358 round trip. I started tracking prices for some variations I might be interested in.

Get past the weekend, and late Monday evening I get an email from Google Flights that bam! United had raised the price to $466 but AA was still at $358. I had planned to buy the tickets the next day. And I quickly see that this affects all available flights. Darn!

So I wait, hoping that maybe, because AA hasn't raised their prices yet, that the UA flights will come back down. A couple of days later I get another Google Flights email that the UA prices have dropped back down to match AA. This time I buy tickets within 24 hours. And the 2 days later in the wee hours - another email, the UA price went back up to $466, and the AA price did too!!!!

Can make your head spin sometimes!

UA and AA are the main competitors in our market. I think what's happening is UA raised the price, seeing whether AA would match. When AA didn't, UA dropped again. Who knows which airlines initiated the final jump to $466 - but they matched exactly.

I always keep tracking the prices until the flight departs out of curiosity. I'm tracking some different dates. They've been more or less moving in lock step - although one did start creeping up sooner than the others.
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Old 04-07-2017, 09:05 PM   #2
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We live/work overseas as permanent residents and pay for our travel back home to Texas each year.
Yes - ticket prices vary alot !
Depending on the Season and Current Events in the world....we have seen huge variance in flight costs.

Ms. Gamboolgal tries to book our tickets well in advance of when we travel....this helps.
But we do see large swings in prices for sure !

We are so looking forward to retirement in about 3 years...ish.....

God willing we will never have to use our passports again....as we have had plenty of all the "glamorous" international travel experiences to do us. Maybe that is because our travel has been almost all work related. But international travel has become such a hassle since 9-11...
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Old 04-07-2017, 10:48 PM   #3
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I sympathize! I'm trying to buy flights to Scandinavia so I've been watching fares from 3 U.S. cities to 4 Scandinavian cities and prices have been all over the place and changing frequently.

Today it seems like the legacy carriers KLM/Air France/British Airways are finally trying to compete with the discounters Norwegian/WOW for market share, so I'm about to pull the trigger. I'm pretty happy to be under $700/person for round-trip fares from the west coast.
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:11 PM   #4
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I sympathize! I'm trying to buy flights to Scandinavia so I've been watching fares from 3 U.S. cities to 4 Scandinavian cities and prices have been all over the place and changing frequently.

Today it seems like the legacy carriers KLM/Air France/British Airways are finally trying to compete with the discounters Norwegian/WOW for market share, so I'm about to pull the trigger. I'm pretty happy to be under $700/person for round-trip fares from the west coast.
Nice!

I'm watching a fare to Europe. I caught a great sale last year for less than half my usual cost! But this time we're flying over in high season. Still - I don't expect to pull the trigger for another month, so we'll keep watching.
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:31 PM   #5
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I use Yapta.com to track prices. If any of you haven't used it, it will not only price for you, but alert you when prices change. After you purchase your tickets, it will continue to track and alert you to when you can ask for a credit refund (or tell you how clever you were becuase prices have gone up). Based on the carrier, they will also tell you the process you need to follow to get the new lower price.

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Old 04-08-2017, 01:01 PM   #6
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I use Yapta.com to track prices. If any of you haven't used it, it will not only price for you, but alert you when prices change. After you purchase your tickets, it will continue to track and alert you to when you can ask for a credit refund (or tell you how clever you were becuase prices have gone up). Based on the carrier, they will also tell you the process you need to follow to get the new lower price.

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Yes - I've also used Yapta.com to track flights which is powered by Kayak.

For some reason I find Google Flights (powered by Matrix) easier for researching flights, and then you just push a button to start tracking it and get alerted on price changes.

Also when you find a flight you want to purchase, they send you to the airline site with all the flight info entered for you, and I prefer to buy my tickets directly from the airline. Oh - I see Yapta will also send you directly to the airline.
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:01 PM   #7
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Not sure if this is true for all Canadian gateways/routes, but I am surprised at savings from booking international flights from Vancouver BC vs Seattle. Yeh, it is a bit inconvenient to drive (2.5 hrs) but on upcoming flight to Hong Kong in Prem Econ savings was $1300. Also got a non-stop. A lot of the flights to HK from Sea include either a Japan or Taiwan stop. Non-stops are available from SFO and LA but you have to first get there. SFO weather can be a gamble and LA--its LA--biggest zoo on the coast.
I think part of it is the relatively weaker Canadian dollars--flights are initially quoted in Can$ but that may vary by carrier. Another benefit is that Vancouver offers a lot more carrier choices especially to Asia.
Did a little testing on a European flight from Vancouver and savings were still there but not quite as good.
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:12 PM   #8
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Not sure if this is true for all Canadian gateways/routes, but I am surprised at savings from booking international flights from Vancouver BC vs Seattle. Yeh, it is a bit inconvenient to drive (2.5 hrs) but on upcoming flight to Hong Kong in Prem Econ savings was $1300. Also got a non-stop. A lot of the flights to HK from Sea include either a Japan or Taiwan stop. Non-stops are available from SFO and LA but you have to first get there. SFO weather can be a gamble and LA--its LA--biggest zoo on the coast.
I think part of it is the relatively weaker Canadian dollars--flights are initially quoted in Can$ but that may vary by carrier. Another benefit is that Vancouver offers a lot more carrier choices especially to Asia.
Did a little testing on a European flight from Vancouver and savings were still there but not quite as good.
Wow - that is substantial savings even though you would have to go through two extra immigration points!!!

Google always shows me how much I would save if we drove to San Antonio. And it's true - there are great prices on non-stop flights to many places. But it's at least a 5 hour drive each way (an you have to get to the north side of San Antonio!) and likely means an overnight hotel each end, so a few $100 savings are quickly used up.
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:30 PM   #9
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Here is an interesting one I left tracking from last year. This is for TWO people (so prices are double). This is for open-jaw US to Amsterdam to Barcelona to US tickets. I stumbled across a huge international price sale so bought the tickets 82 days out - way ahead of usual, but it was $653 each. The "regular" price was $1162pp - still not bad for tickets that often were $1200 to $1400. Looks like another sale ~half-off sale occurred at 62 to 58 days before, and yet another, but not quite as good of a sale ($957), occurred at 43 to 36 days before the flight. After that the prices steadily rose.

If I think there might a lot of fluctuation in prices in the next week, I will pay the forelock (usually $18 for two tickets for 7 days). In the past I have had flights drop a hundred bucks or more during that period. Once the ticket is bought, it usually costs $200pp to change it, but would be worth it if you had a sudden big drop in price on the same carrier.
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Old 04-08-2017, 05:31 PM   #10
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Feels a little like stock market trading to me.
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Old 04-08-2017, 05:52 PM   #11
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Google always shows me how much I would save if we drove to San Antonio.
Interesting - San Antonio seems to be very hard for me to ever find a good deal for. Maybe that's highly dependent on where you are going/coming from, but compared to Houston or Dallas, SA is a pretty provincial airport given how very large the city really is
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:04 PM   #12
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Well it is, although the patterns are a bit more evident and you know you're going to pay a lot more as you get within 21 days of takeoff and especially 7 days.

Amazon prices change all the time, even during the day now.
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:06 PM   #13
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Interesting - San Antonio seems to be very hard for me to ever find a good deal for. Maybe that's highly dependent on where you are going/coming from, but compared to Houston or Dallas, SA is a pretty provincial airport given how very large the city really is
Non-stop RT Flights to ATL often <$200 probably because of Delta.

Hmmm - Frontier is also flying SAT to ATL.
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Old 04-08-2017, 07:10 PM   #14
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Wow - that is substantial savings even though you would have to go through two extra immigration points!
True, but since we have GOES, the US border entry is not usually too big of a speed bump. No recent experience with Vancouver customs so it is a bit of a "wild card".
I will report back on this strategy when we return.
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Old 04-08-2017, 07:11 PM   #15
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True, but since we have GOES, the US border entry is not usually too big of a speed bump. No recent experience with Vancouver customs so it is a bit of a "wild card".
I will report back on this strategy when we return.
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You leave your car in Canada then while you go off on a trip?
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Old 04-08-2017, 07:41 PM   #16
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Woohoo! We're all booked. Round-trip SFO to ARN (Stockholm) for $432.50 per person on KLM in August. I love being retired and able to flex the travel dates.

Now to start booking hotels and finalizing the itinerary ...
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:13 PM   #17
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You leave your car in Canada then while you go off on a trip?
Yep--Vancouver airport has fenced secured parking with good reviews. There are also several private vendors nearby as well. If you prebook online, parking is 40% off--instead of over C$300 for our 3 week trip, cost will be 128 C$. Vancouver airport is only 30 min from the border, so we will probably spend the night in Bellingham just to reduce the chance of any "Ah-sh**" events on departure morning,
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:22 PM   #18
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Woohoo! We're all booked. Round-trip SFO to ARN (Stockholm) for $432.50 per person on KLM in August. I love being retired and able to flex the travel dates.

Now to start booking hotels and finalizing the itinerary ...
Sweet!!!
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Old 04-09-2017, 08:36 AM   #19
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For the past few years we have been booking international air about 45-60 days out. We have found that this is the sweet spot for us. One of our best fares was 12 days out however it might have been a fluke.

We do start earlier. We get a handle on what the fares are and what a good fare looks like. We also pay attention to airline, routings, schedule, and fare code. We typically have a number in mind. When the right number, right everything else hits, we book. If we try to get the lowest priced seat on the plane chances are we will be staying home or paying too much.
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Old 04-09-2017, 09:34 AM   #20
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You leave your car in Canada then while you go off on a trip?
Watch out for those Canadians. They are sneaky devils. Maybe we need a wall up North also.

How high-tech car theft became a billion-dollar Canadian*racket - The Globe and Mail

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He doesnít start the car, instead reaching into his bag to pull out something that looks a bit like an oversized vintage Nintendo controller, 13-by-30 centimetres with a bright blue rubber border.
With a USB cable, he plugs it into the carís diagnostic system and punches some buttons. Then, trying the key, he hears the engine come to life. He backs out and drives away.
FWIW, USA or Canada, I always drive the oldest car I have when parking long term for a trip. My problem is that my oldest car is also my only car. Oh well, the best laid plans.....
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