The only thing left is knowing which alert to jump on…
The secret is out. If you want to get in on the best flight deals, there’s no better way to give yourself a fighting chance than to set price trackers. After all, they’re free, and once you get the hang of things, they couldn’t be any easier. The big question though, is: where -and actually also – how? Here are the best websites for setting price trackers, and a few tips to make sure you set them properly.
As you now know, price alerts are your best friend in air travel and there are great websites to set as many as you like, for free. Google Flights is our favourite, but Hipmunk, Skyscanner and Kayak each offer great interfaces for setting alerts as well.
The reason we prefer Google Flights is that it’s the most seamless. If you’re already logged into your Gmail account, you just tap the alert button on any search you want, and Google emails you directly if anything changes for better, or worse. Don’t fret though, you can set alerts with any of the others just by entering your email address, we’re just lazy.
How To Effectively Set Up Flight Price Alerts
The more you search for great airfare deals, the more you learn that just one day can make all the difference. Say you want to leave on a Tuesday, but there’s a massive price drop for flights on a Wednesday – you’ll never know if you only have alerts set for the Tuesday.
The most effective method for setting price alerts is to set a separate alert for each day you’d consider. If you’re looking at a one week trip in the second week of July, consider setting at least 14 different alerts, with one for each day of the week departing, and one for different possible dates of return on the coming home end. The more you cover that you’re actually willing to take, the higher the likelihood that you’ll snag a dream fare.
Don’t be afraid to set price alerts for dream destinations either.
It’s often cheaper to fly half way around the world than somewhere nearby, so don’t be afraid to pop in some alerts for bucket list destinations too. Sometimes thinking outside the box, and going further than others leads to the best deals.
I know what you’re saying: ugh, effort. But really, this should take seconds. If you’re on Google Flights and logged into your gmail, it’s a matter of clicking Sunday return, pressing set alert, clicking Monday return, pressing set alert… you get the picture. Once the alerts are all logged, you’ll be presented with info whenever prices change. And yes – they may go up – that’s the tricky part.
Oh, and side tip: we share a lot of the best flight deals at this page, if you want a head start.
Which Flight Price Alert Should You Jump On
Alerts are easy, but here’s the hard part. With prices constantly fluctuating, it’s really hard to know which price drop or rise to jump on. Unfortunately, there’s no smoking gun answer here, but there is good wisdom. For starters, the earlier you start tracking flight prices the better. It’s not often that the lowest prices are offered a year out or more, but sometimes they are. The second thing: don’t panic.
Flights will go up and down.
Statistically speaking, many of the best deals happen around 60+ days away from departure on international flights, and slightly within that for domestic or short haul. With that said, you may find the lowest price 355 days out. It’s also important to understand seasonality. In other words, it could be worth waiting for prices to drop on out of season deals like fall travel, whereas summer flights, you may not want to wait until the last minute, since demand is so high.
Just stick to your instincts and try your best to learn about typical pricing by watching early. The more you know about what someone typically pays for the flight you’re looking at, the more you can be sure when you see a price that feels like a real deal. For example, flights from New York to London can be as low as $300 round trip in winter, but rarely under $650 in summer. If I see a summer deal for $400, I’m booking – and fast – whereas winter, I might wait!
The best thing to do is book a flight when it feels like a great price to you.