Book the Plane Ticket. Don’t Sweat It.

Book the Plane Ticket. Don’t Sweat It.

New research shows why hunting for the cheapest plane ticket is a waste of your time

Airplane ticket price hunting

Let’s face it: Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the airline industry has been unpredictable, to say the least. From the glut of canceled flights over the past year to changing travel restrictions, travelers haven't felt too confident flying the friendly skies. In fact, new research from Expedia found air travel is a leading cause of stress for the majority of Americans, who find it more daunting than filing taxes or visiting the dentist.

Of course, a lot of the stress comes from trying to score the best price for your flight—no one wants to overpay for a seat you could've got for less, right? Airline prices rose 22% during the last year, so travelers have to be savvy to get the best deal. This is why there are now multiple websites and apps dedicated solely to finding passengers cheaper flights than what they may find when searching directly on an airline's official site.

Which is interesting, because a group of researchers from various colleges came together and found that there is no one weird trick for getting cheaper flights. In fact, airlines are probably leaving money on the table by not having a better system for pricing flights. As one profressor told, “Despite how it may appear when looking for flights, airlines have a fixed and relatively small number of prices that they assign to tickets on each flight. Unlike other consumer sectors, where pricing can be adjusted and targeted, airlines operate with large gaps between each possible price—sometimes upwards of $100. They may sell the first 30 economy tickets at the lowest price, and then the next 30 tickets at the next possible price, and so on.” But, I guess the good news is that there's no special hack we're missing out on ... If these professors couldn't figure it out, we probably can't either.

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Expedia says that ticket prices should be cheaper in 2024, although only by around 3 percent.