No, you should NOT wait to see if Flight prices go down

It’s inevitable. You’re thinking about booking a flight and you see the price. $400. It seems steep, but with 3 months to go you’re thinking maybe the price goes down. 2 months later the price is at $440 and you’re thinking, well maybe the price will go down. With 4 weeks go to and the price is now $550 and deep down YOU KNOW the airline will lower the price.

No, the airline is not going to lower the price of your ticket.
No, the you should not wait to see if prices go down.
Yes, you should buy the ticket today.

Just this week we’ve received four requests through our Travel Booking Service for help with finding cheap tickets. On the dates that the customer wanted to fly (Friday and Sunday departures) the prices were a bit higher than on Tuesday and Wednesday departures, naturally.

In all four instances, the clients said “I’ll just wait to see if the prices go down, and then I can book.” For the sake of those who skipped the first paragraph, let me say it one more time.

No, the airline is not going to lower the price of your ticket.
No, the you should not wait to see if prices go down.
Yes, you should buy the ticket today.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t times that tickets go down in price. Sure, perhaps an airline will run a sale and perhaps the ticket will slightly reduce in price. Generally speaking this isn’t the case. If you’re looking to book travel and it’s still 6-8 months before your travel date, then perhaps you’ll see a flight reduction. In almost every other case you’re not going to see any savings and end up paying out the nose for a flight.

How to save by waiting

One of the best places to find a cheaper ticket later on down the road is with international flights. We’ve been seeing drastic drops in international airfare, with certain routes from the west coast to Europe going for $350-400. If you’re seeing a ticket with a price of $1100 then sure, maybe it makes sense to sit tight.

Airlines often have business class sales to certain destinations. A little bit of practice and experience will tell you that the majority of the time those sales are to places like Barcelona, Madrid, and Scandinavia. If you’re looking to travel anywhere else, consider getting a ticket to those destinations and booking on a low cost carrier (LCC) to your final destination.

Europe Flight Sale Volotea Flight Santorini Greece

Finite Number of Seats

Airlines aren’t grocery stores. They can’t just call the warehouse to see if there’s extra stock for them to ship in for you. Each airplane has a limited, finite number of seats. When those seats are gone, they’re gone. Inside of each cabin there are also “fare buckets” which each ticket is priced. Once the deep discount fare buckets are full, we move onto the discount. Once discount is full, we move on to full fare. Once full fare is gone, we move on another day because you’re done. And if an airline is almost completely sold out, they’re not going to reduce the cost of the ticket.

It never happens. Ever. Never ever ever.

Free Change/Cancellation

In the last case, there were only 6 weeks go to and the price was already considerably higher than what I think the route should command. Nevertheless, she said that she would wait to see if it went down. My final communication with the client was “The price isn’t going to reduce, so use this as a warning when we’re having this same conversation in 3 weeks and you still haven’t pulled the trigger.”

Due to Covid, the vast majority of airlines have refundable tickets and flexible change policies. In many cases, there are few downsides to booking the ticket now, especially if you decide that you want to use the value of that ticket for a different flight later on.

Best Advice?

Here’s the best advice I can give you and that we give to our clients. If you’re happy with the price, book the ticket. If you’re not happy with the price and you would be even unhappier of the price went up 30%, book the ticket. Because if you wait, and now you’re paying 30% more, you just missed out.

What do you think? Should you WAIT! Or should you BUY!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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10 Comments

  1. This is the stupidest travel blog post I have ever read. EVER. EVER EVER.

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    • Agreed, this is completely clueless article. Prices do change all the time and clients have a right to be educated.

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      • Why’s that Izz? Seems like I said that there are instances where prices do change but more often than not prices go up.

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    • Your kind words warm my heart Gene

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  2. I would diffently wait

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  3. “Because if you ~~want~~, and now you’re paying 30% more, you just missed out.”

    ~~wait~~

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    • Thank you 🙂

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  4. Good nudge, Jon. I’m thinking this is, and always has been, an issue of supply and demand. The supply of seats is high now, and demand for seats won’t get high until the vaccines are rolled out. Wait….they ARE being rolled out! It takes 6th grade math to figure out that, for the most part, sooner is better than later as the vaccine doses continue to find arms.

    In terms of this being a stupid post, sounds to me like you saw a bad trend in the market you wanted to address. If the post doesn’t apply to others, just move on.

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    • I always do! Plenty of haters out there that don’t have their own blog to complain so they live in the comment threads of everyone else’s blog 🙂 Thanks Beau!

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  5. What would make more sense would be to advise your clients to always buy right away because airlines no longer charge change fees and you can re-book at any time for a credit. That advice has nothing to do with having a bias regarding whether you think the price will go up or down. The assumption that the price will usually go up is generally incorrect. Pre-COVID, the price would more likely that not increase over the 21 days before departure. Obviously now the pricing algorithms work differently, but you make it sound like airlines never add more seats in lower fare buckets over time or change all of their fare bucket pricing up or down.

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