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Old May 4, 06, 3:38 pm   #1
 
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How often do air fares change?

Hello,

I am still new here so I am sorry if I posted this in the wrong topic.

I understand that fares change everyday, but is there a set time with all airlines?

Does it happen at midnight, or does each airline change thier fares whenever they feel like it.

The reason I ask is because my wife and I are flying to MSP from SAT and we were searching fares for a few days and saw fares as low as 177 RT and around 355 RT for the same flights.

To me it seems like a rollercoster ride. We tought we missed the 177 fare because the next day it went back up to 300, but a few days later it went back down to 177 and it hasn't been back since. Needless to say the wife and I jumped on the low fare before it would go up again.

Now I would like to buy a ticket for my mother for the same flights that me and my wife are riding but her fare is at about 310. The other day it was at 371.

I have noticed that Fridays and Mondays seem to have the lowest fares is that ture? Because I have made a reservation with AA and they are holding my seats until 11:59am Thursday. Should I let them go and try to see if the fares drop tommorrow, or should I buy it at 310 before it goes up?

Thanks alot for all of the vast amout of travel information throughout this website!
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Old May 4, 06, 3:56 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMechanic
Because I have made a reservation with AA and they are holding my seats until 11:59am Thursday. Should I let them go and try to see if the fares drop tommorrow, or should I buy it at 310 before it goes up?
If you find the $310 fare today as well then you can cancel your current 310 fare and put the new one on hold, that'll buy you another 24 hours to hope for dropping fares (but watch out if it's an advance purchase fare look at booking rules).
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Old May 4, 06, 4:58 pm   #3
 
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Some airlines will change fares manually (they set the fare themselves, "humanly"). This is done especially when there are fare mistakes (see the MR forum for these mistakes).
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Old May 4, 06, 10:30 pm   #4
 
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Typically fares are set after 2:00 am and vary from day to day.... It is done on a complex equation, so if you try one evening and cannot find a low fare, it may be available in the morning.

Typically the lowest fare can be found with a minimum of 3 weeks before the travel dates, but it all depends on destination, air line, seats sold on the flight, time of the day, and ... I have known to buy an air fare 6 months in advance when I found a 50% sale from typical rates as well as 2 weeks in advance.

Bottom line, the fare could go back to $177. Keep an eye and buy it when you think that you are getting a good price. You never know if it will go back to $177 or if $310 is the best between now and your travel time.
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Old May 5, 06, 2:05 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr MCO
Typically fares are set after 2:00 am and vary from day to day.... It is done on a complex equation, so if you try one evening and cannot find a low fare, it may be available in the morning.
Can you explain the 2:00 A.M. part?

I work with Orbitz/CheapTickets and our fares change at Midnight in the timezone in which the company is located. Orbitz uses Central (GMT-6) and CheapTickets uses Hawaiian (GMT-10). By "change" I mean that fares which expire on a certain date do so at Midnight.

Fares often have advance purchase requirements, meaning some fares must be purchased 14 days before travel, some 3 days before, and so on. Generally, the closer you get to travel, the more expensive the fares become. It's doubly expensive, because not only do you have more expensive fares, but often the cheaper seats have been sold.

Of course, airlines can and do offer discounted fares on certain dates, times of day, days of the week, etc.
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Old May 5, 06, 11:48 am   #6
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Fares are typically set, as posted, daily.

However, a fare class can fill up. Say N fills up, so M is now the cheapest. (Substitute any letters for discount economy fare classes on your favorite airline.) At that point, the N fare goes away. The M fare hasn't changed, it's exactly what it used to be, but it has gone from the second-least-expensive (which most people don't see) to the least expensive (which shows up in searches by fare). From the viewpoint of a traveler looking for the lowest fare, it's gone up. This can happen at any time.
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Old May 5, 06, 11:50 am   #7
 
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The easier question might be how often do fares stay the same. The answer 0.
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Old May 5, 06, 11:58 am   #8
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I don't agree that Fridays and Mondays have the least expensive fares. In my experience, the best days to buy are Tuesday and Wednesday. The weekend is the worst.

Fares jump around so much that you really need to check everyday, and sometimes several times a day to ensure you don't miss anything.
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Old May 5, 06, 12:23 pm   #9
 
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I agree with MileKing. Often times the middle of the week is the best time to find cheap airfare. But due diligence is called for when looking for the best price so checking everyday is not unreasonable. I have several sites that I use in addition to the usual suspects to keep an eye open for air sales especially when you have three kids in tow.

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Old May 5, 06, 12:27 pm   #10
 
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The average GDS system goes through 3-5 fare loads each day. This has nothing to do with fare rules but how many times the airlines can update their fares in the GDS systems each day.
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Old May 5, 06, 12:38 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobeka
I agree with MileKing. Often times the middle of the week is the best time to find cheap airfare. But due diligence is called for when looking for the best price so checking everyday is not unreasonable. I have several sites that I use in addition to the usual suspects to keep an eye open for air sales especially when you have three kids in tow.

Hello Mobeka,

Can you share some of the sites you keep an eye on? I am looking to purchase tics to London in September and am searching rather desperately for some decen prices.

Thanks,

D.
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