When is the best time to buy tickets? Online tools

It’s always handy to know how much you should be paying for a flight between two cities. Many professionals can pick a random city pair and availability window and give you a price off the top of his or her head. Until recently, that was pretty much the way to do it. With the age of the interwebs upon us however, several sites have started compiling and comparing the wealth of airline fare data that has been accumulating over the years.

  • My favorite, Farecompare, is a powerful tool that not only tracks legacy data but keeps uber-accurate track of the current fares. It takes a fair amount of interpretation to garner the best data from their database, including airline feeds and international taxes. Be patient and tinker around with the software during your weekly management meeting and you’ll learn a ton. Farecompare also has a pretty neat guide for buying tickets on their frontpage, although most of that is geared around their site.
  • Although Kayak is no longer the secret that it used to be, this metacrawler is the one of the most efficient, well-written search engines out there. In addition to a powerful flex search, you can also look at basic fare trends. If you guys are watching, don’t sell out!
  • Yapta and Farecast are two tools that are just coming out of the starting gates. Still in their infancy (Farecast used to be only for select city pairs) they’re now expanding their service to some of the larger markets. One neat thing that Faretracker does is give you a probability that your ticket is going to fall in price. As I said earlier though, it’s a black art; not even the professionals will commit to any prices.

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