Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fare Watching

This time a year ago, we were booking airfare for our trip.  We knew which flight we wanted - nonstop from Atlanta to Barcelona, so as soon as our travel dates were available for booking, we monitored the price nearly every day.  Airfare is usually available for purchase 330 days in advance of your return flight, so that's a good time to start fare-watching. 

There are several sites online that will assist in fare watching and provide alerts based on whatever criteria you select.  For us, because we knew which flight we wanted and which dates we needed to travel, we did our own fare watching by checking the airline site directly.  But if you have choices for where to fly from or you don't mind having a connecting flight either before you leave the US or somewhere in Europe, the travel sites do a good job of helping you accumulate the data you need to make a decision about when to purchase.

I looked today to see what airfare for a comparable flight would be if we were traveling next summer.  The price quoted today is about $75 more than this time last year, and over $130 more than we ended up booking for.  We did book our June 2013 flight in September 2012 but only after watching the fares for several weeks, so when we saw a dip in price, we grabbed it.  Much like playing slot machines, once you've purchased your airfare, you shouldn't keep checking in case a much better deal comes along, but I couldn't help myself and did follow our flight's cost for several more weeks. It turned out we bought at the lowest point and had the satisfaction of being able to get our choice of seats on the plane as well as crossing flight arrangements off our list of things to do.

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