Playing the Airfare Game

by Nancy Bestor


I’m not a betting woman (I’m not a betting man either, in case you were wondering), but quite often I’m willing to gamble with airfares.  I’m willing to take a chance and roll the dice again (or in this case look on another computer, or another airfare website, or, or or…) to see if the airfare might just be a little cheaper. Well last month I rolled the dice again and lost. That’s right, the house (in this case Delta Airlines) won.

I wanted to book a flight out of Medford to Puerto Vallarta and back in the week before Thanksgiving. I checked the fares midweek, but didn’t have time to research the flights thoroughly until the weekend. By Saturday, the fares had gone up. So I decided to wait until Monday, knowing that fares are often at their highest on the weekends, and midweek, according to “experts”, the fares are often lowest.  Sadly, the fares rose again. Deciding to cut my losses, I bought my ticket and paid about one hundred dollars more than the first time I checked, just a week earlier.

Where did I go wrong? Bookies would probably tell me I should never have gambled. If I saw a fare I liked, and could base it on a price I had paid previously, or even base it on the fact that it was a fare I could afford, I should have bought it. Particularly since my travels are close to a busy holiday. In an article by CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, the best time to book holiday travel is often in August, well before most people are thinking about turkeys, menorahs and Christmas trees. The article also noted that airfares for 2013 are up slightly over 2012, and airfares in 2012 were already at an eight-year high.

Did my airfare go back down after I purchased it? Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Once I buy, unless I have some kind of low-price guarantee (I know, I’m living in the 1980’s), I don’t look back. I’ve spent the money, and I really don’t want to know if I overpaid.  The house may have won, but I’m going to squeeze all the value out of my purchase I can. If that means sitting on the beach in Mexico and having just one more cocktail so be it.