Are Airfare prices really a mystery?

I am sure you have heard the term Early Bird Specials associated with booking holidays and in particular with flights. But how does the pricing work. I have no doubt that you have experienced looking for a price and thinking you will wait until it gets closer to the time to book, just in case the price drops only to look in a few days or months time to be sadly disappointed and find they are quite the opposite.

Gone are the days of waiting for a last minute deal to drop into your inbox. I have tried many ways to explain this to clients and have found simple analogies are the best. In a nutshell you have an overall cost of running the airline made up of the following:

  • FUEL
  • STAFF WAGES AND TRAINING (including overnight accommodations)

All of these items and more come at a price and someone has to pay. When looking at Economy Class, there can be as many as 14 booking classes all graded according to the cost of recovering the above items. So you could say that they are on a sliding scale. The cheapest booking class can be a T or an N or an S depending on the airline and these are what become available when a flight is opened for booking- hence Early Bird.
The airline knows that they need a number of seats sold in that class to get them to a certain point of debt recovery and once they have reached that, it is time to close that class and move upwards in price and start making more money. This process continues until all of the items I have mentioned have been “paid” for. Then it is time to start making money for the airline to use to again cover more costs of flying.
So if you think waiting is a good idea, maybe you should think again. Remember if you book on line you cannot hold a flight while you think about it. If you book through an agent who does all of the work for you, sometimes they can hold a flight for a few days depending on the fare. BUT, once a fare is booked you have to pay it in full by the ticketing time limit or the seats on hold for you go to the next waiting bidder.
My advice is to have the cash or card ready to go so that when you see a good price on a ticket you are in a position to grab it NOW instead of having to pay the more expensive fare at a later date.

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