Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is there a best day of the week to book airfare?

Aruba Bound
Is there a best day of the week to book airfare? By Jessica Labrencis, SmarterTravel.com

"There's a bit of an urban legend that certain times of the day are better than others for booking airfare. This doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but there are better days to book than others.

Heather Leisman, director of merchandising at Orbitz, notes that sophisticated algorithms used by the airlines determine prices for airfare; these algorithms take into account a wide variety of factors, including the route's history, available seats, booking patterns and even the weather. Leisman says that prices fluctuate throughout the day, and it's difficult to predict if and when prices will drop at any given time.

Several experts believe that booking on certain days, rather than time of day, can yield lower prices. Travelocity's Director of Flights, Dominique Philips, says that most airlines tend to release sales on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, a trend we've also noticed at SmarterTravel.com, which makes searching for airfare early in the week smart.

John Morrey, vice president of retail air at Expedia agrees. In his opinion, booking on Tuesday evenings is ideal. He notes that airlines tend to release fare sales on Tuesday mornings, and if other carriers match, they usually do so by the evening. Fare sales generally end on Fridays, and Morrey says, "In addition, when airlines raise fares, they tend to do this on a weekend, so Saturdays and Sundays [are] less attractive."

Booking at off-peak times such as late at night or in the early morning may not help you score a low fare, but according to Morrey, you may have an easier time searching for airfare during off-peak times. He says, "[Booking] systems are designed to handle peak loads, but run even faster in off-peak hours when there's less traffic."

Another excellent article is "Insider Background & Tips You Should Know Before Purchasing Air Travel". Not all of it applies to international travel, but the concept of fares and scheduling explained is primarily the same. Overall www.farecompare.com/ is my favorite travel strategy website. To be educated is to save money. The airlines are becoming more and more strict in issuing refunds or vouchers when the fare lowers on your flight. If they isssue the refund or voucher, they more than likely will also charge you a change fee, since in essence that is what you are doing. Changing from one fare class to another.

Speaking of fare classes, if you have to be on a particular flight and the less expensive coach fares are already sold out, consider pricing a discounted first or business class fare. You would be surprised in the difference in price between full fare business class and discounted business class on our Delta flights to Aruba. The discounted business class airfares have been running right around $1150 per person vs. a price of $2200+ per person for full fare business class. If you can only get a $900 seat in coach on a plane to Aruba, in my mind for a 4+ hour flight, it is worth considering the extra $250 for the upgrade.

Our own little airfare story...For our Aruba trip next June, Dh and I had enough miles for two Delta frequent flier rewards, but not enough for a third. So we needed to purchase a ticket for dd. Then the frustration began in earnest. The price started out at $800+. But there were no discounted fares available. Finally weeks later, the fare lowered to $604. So, wanted to get the seat, we booked it. That was Friday. By Monday the fare had lowered yet again, but now to $435. Oops! Delta would not issue a credit to us for the difference. They offered a travel voucher of $50 after we paid $100 penalty. No thank you. We have not future travel plans after June 2008.

It took two days, but dh was finally able to get through to someone at Delta's consumer affairs and they cheerfully gave us the credit back to our credit card. Polite, firm persistence paid off.

I won't get on my soap box about why airfares are continually cheaper from the NYC metro airports to Aruba than they are from Atlanta to Aruba. A lot further distance, but a lot more competition.