I’m a new fan of the free service, which drills down fare predictions to specific flights and advises users to buy or wait. Its “fare beacons” monitor fares on these flights for you and email an alert when it’s time to buy. It can also predict the likelihood of a certain flight selling out.
FLYR predictions are made based on monitoring mountains of historical airfare data that is sliced and diced with “adaptive price-forecasting algorithms.” While its predictive services do not yet cover every single flight in the world…they are slowly getting there. For now, it’s primarily a tool for pricing domestic US flights. According to the site today, they are monitoring 1,923 routes.
Earlier this month I had a meeting with the scientists behind the startup at their headquarters in downtown San Francisco. After that meetup I thought of some fare-related questions that TravelSkills readers might like to ask these smart guys.
I’ll present the Q&A in two parts. Here’s part One:
Q: When will I find best airfare deals for Spring Break planning? When are the best times to fly?
FLYR: The US market is relatively fortunate in that our schedule for Spring Break covers a long period and is variable among travelers (from mid-February to late-April), as opposed to the rather “firm” dates found in East Asia such as Lunar New Year (Feb 19) and Golden Week in Japan (April 29-May 5).
We compiled a “Deal Index” looking at current airfares to the most popular domestic destinations for Spring Break, including Florida, Southern California, and Las Vegas. We examined the most popular travel weekends for air travel running from March through mid-April. (See chart at top)
The weekends with a higher deal index rating are generally better bets for cheap departures, while those with lower ratings are likely already filling up. Travelers with a bit of flexibility in their schedules should definitely avoid initiating travel on those higher-demand weekends. (Note that Easter is Sunday April 5 this year.)
For travelers who wish to check on a particular flight itinerary, our getFLYR.com website is able to deliver BUY/WAIT advice on most of these individual airfares.
Q: For summer planning, is now the best time to buy tickets to Europe for travel during peak summer season (JUL-AUG) or should I wait?
One of the most widely held beliefs among travelers is that earlier always means cheaper. Not necessarily. While buying far in advance will generally ensure that you will avoid paying the highest prices, they usually undergo some dramatic changes in the lead-up to the date of departure:
We examined current airfare data from multiple gateway cities in the US to major destinations in Europe. While airfares held steady over 120 days out, they do drop dramatically after that. While there will be cases where certainty in confirming a booking is necessary many months in advance, there appears to be little else compelling about booking your flights to Europe more than four months before you travel.
The caveat of course, is that this is highly dependent upon the particular route, carrier, and flight that each individual traveler is looking at. We have noted that a certain level of market disruption has already been introduced by the likes of Turkish Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle in US-Europe flights, especially in the cities being served.
Next time, we’ll ask the FLYR folks how plummeting fuel prices and currency fluctuations will affect summer fares. Stay tuned! (UPDATE: Here’s the second part of our series with FLYR:
Have you been following our super popular Planespotting 101 series? Check out our first two installments here:
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