Surprise! Flight Deals Can Get Even Deal-ier

Posted February 6, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk

Piggybank Comparison shopping, in general, doesn’t ring my bells. If I’m going to get a green duvet cover, oh, I’m gonna get that green duvet right when I want it—without conducting an exhaustive search for a better price. Call me foolhardy if you will, but it’s my wallet.

And because it’s my wallet I’m willing to eschew my aversion to comparison shopping when it comes to big-ticket items; specifically, plane tickets. I may not mind losing 10 bucks on a duvet, but 200 bucks on airfare just ain’t gonna happen. Luckily and totally unbiased-ly (well, mostly unbiased-ly) I happen to work for a company that offers a way to comparison shop for airline tickets. Taking full advantage, I searched for a flight to get my mom from Milwaukee to visit yours truly in Boston at a low price.

Well, cheap flights I sought and cheap flights I found, but wait—it gets better. After I picked the airfare that most pleased my modest little income, I started the booking process and (drumroll, please) the price went down.


My cheap airfare got cheaper.

I started asking around the office a little and it seems that I’m not the first person to experience such a serendipitous little magic airfare discount. From my very informal survey (Gallup, I am not), at least a good handful of the group has experienced this more than once and, every single time, only once they began the booking process.

My best guess is that once you finish searching flights, see a price you like, and then go to book the plane ticket, the site may go back and do a final search to verify the price. With flight prices constantly fluctuating, it would make sense that sometimes they go down and the site would update with that reduced price.

Regardless of the reason, today’s travel tip: Click through to the booking process on all of the sites you’re searching. You can stop before you actually have to enter your name, credit card, and all of that but taking this extra step could net you anything from pocket change to “cha-ching!”

You’re welcome. ;-)

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Reader Comments

MKE-BOS?! I happen to fly that route a zillion times a year! How much was it??

Posted on February 06, 2009 at 02:46 PM by Erin

I love that you used the phrase "eschew my aversion" in this post! Seriously, though, this is really helpful info. I am definitely going to use it next time I shop for airfare.

Posted on February 06, 2009 at 03:44 PM by Roosevelt Churchill

Comparison Shopping is the way to go! I mean how can you not compare flights? That's just outrageous if you don't!

Posted on February 09, 2009 at 09:28 AM by Maggie

I’m not sure how you could not shop for airline tickets! The price drop that you experienced was probably due to the way airlines cache their flight availability on their websites. Several times per day, the airline booking websites take a “picture” if their availability which is loaded on their main computers. When you book your flights on the web, the initial quote is based on the “picture” of availability which was taken. When you finalize the flight, the pricing is then checked against the real time availability. So the price may go up our down depending on how it has changed since the “picture” was taken.

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 09:28 AM by Brandon

It's a nice post.I think the travel tip which you posted will be useful to more.You have to first compare the flights.Then you should go for booking. Thanks for your post.

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 09:59 AM by Ragul

Thanks for the great tip! I've had that happen once or twice, but it was just a pleasant surprise. I never thought to actually try and go that far while booking to check if it drops. I've heard in the news that a lot of airlines are in price cutting "wars" right now, so I'm sure this will happen more and more with prices constantly being cut. Hooray for good deals!

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 10:20 AM by Kim

I agree with comparison shopping. That's how a got my very cheap ticket (one way, philippines to JFK). Saved me $200.00. My husband is planning a trip to California so I guess I'll give this one a try. Interesting posts you have in your blog. Love it

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 05:13 PM by Edna

This isn't limited to starting the booking process online, either! I was booked PIT to SEA and online the ticket was $265 from the airline. I made a call to the airline because I needed to book one of our tickets as a free voucher and low and behold what I found out! The fare for to purchase the ticket with and actual AGENT on the phone was CHEAPER than online!!! I had to pay a whopping $20 to book on the phone but the ticket WAS STILL CHEAPER by over $50 bucks! I was astounded!

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 09:54 PM by EW

It is wonderful that you were able to find such a great deal. I recently had to fly to Arizona and although I got a good deal, I had to put it altogether with a package (hotel, rental car, and airfare). I found several sites that had outrageously good prices, only to do the drumroll and the the fees were so high that by the time the final price was calculated it was twice as much as other sites. There are so many sites out there it can be daunting to find a good deal and know its a good deal. All I can say is, never ever fly United. Took it to Arizona and it was horrible. I actually tore up my return ticket and gladly paid for another one from a different airline. Those cheap fares can be a bummer in the end.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 12:39 AM by alwayshopeful

Well, I never knew such a thing was possible. It does make terrible sense to do that last minute checking. Thanks for the tip - a useful one indeed !

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 03:53 AM by Srik

I'm a die-hard comparison shopper and I've spent countless hours on the phone and online looking for cheap airfares when I need to fly somewhere. I recently moved to a new city, so now I have to acquaint myself with who flies from here. I used to be able to choose from the three airports around the D.C. area, but now I am stuck with just one (unless I want to drive several hours), so getting a good bargain is important. I appreciate your thoughtful article and link. I'm going to be traveling in March to Dallas and I really need to keep costs down. (Have been laid off, so $$$ is tight.) I just found this site, so you've made my job easy for me. Thanks a bunch.

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 10:39 AM by SuzyQ

I spent weeks looking for our airline tickets to Europe last year, and this would've been great to know! Thank you so much for the link! I will definitely use this in the future!

Posted on February 12, 2009 at 01:37 PM by Kara

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