Iâ€™m convinced thereâ€™s a science to finding cheap airfare. For the past three months, Iâ€™ve been staking out some of my favorite online discount sites hoping the $700 (plus) roundtrip prices to Costa Rica would relent. At the behest of Mama Burns, I waited until we got a little closer to our departure date and of course she was right. Fares dropped about $100, five weeks out, and a few weeks later another $100. I was on a roll and decided to hold out until a week and a half before our planned departure date. Just then, I was hit with a whammy! Fares edged up $20 and then $50. Fearing the worst, I booked immediately. But the question is, if booking last minute flights is science, how do you master the subject?
Wait, but not too late: While holding out can guarantee great deals, when it comes to airfare, there seems to be a point when airlines understand you are desperate and thus start raising the prices. While this is not the case in all instances, as I look now for the same flight closer to our departure date (one week) the cheapest fares are upwards of $600, about $100 more than what I paid.
Beware of the 1 a.m. theory: A money-savvy buddy of mine told me to check the airfares at about 1 a.m. since thatâ€™s when airlines make price changes. But you may also lose out on a good deal booking around this time as well. In a matter of minutes fares for the same exact flight went from $460 to$500.
Create a strategy: When it comes to getting deals, Iâ€™ve learned to employ a multipronged approach. This ranges from constantly checking your favorite travel site, following these sites on Twitter and Facebook for constant updates (consider creating a Twitter travel list) and subscribing to a Websiteâ€™s news letters so you can get the deals as theyâ€™re posted. Subscribing to the newsletter will also let you track pricing trends for your particular destination.
Have any more tips on how to find a last minute flight at a bargain? Let me know!