When it comes to redeeming for airfare, it is pretty simple – if the flight we want is there, we book it. Easy! But, with paid airfare, it is like a game to figure if the price will hold while we make plans or if we should just buy now and forget it. When it comes to “mistake” fares and ultra low fares, the #1 rule is never to think – just book and think later since OTAs like Priceline and Orbitz will give you at least 24 hours to cancel anyway!
What Happens When You Wait One Day Too Long
I am a planner – I like to have everything figured out and organized and know what is going on. When I am on a tour, I am probably a tour guide’s nightmare as I want to know everything that our itinerary includes and what the schedule is like (probably one of the main reasons I almost never do tours!). While it can be good to be a planner when it comes to trips, it can also trip you up if you are waiting too long to book airfare, hotels, or cars. Most of the time, I get a great price when I book a ticket and that is that. But, every so often, I am waiting on some things to fall into place and I will lose out on that cheap ticket.
Such is the case with a ticket that I had been waiting to purchase. While many of my tickets are award tickets, I do book a few revenue tickets as well (either not a good deal to redeem for miles or I need a particular schedule). I had been dragging my feet too long and should have just pulled the trigger – but I waited. And when I was finally ready, I found that the ticket price for the day I had been looking at jumped more than double! Oops and ouch!
Tips To Help
So, what happens when this happens? There are a couple of ways to handle dealing with a higher price when you have waited too long (besides making the promise that you will just book right away next time!).
In my case, the value for the redemption had not been that good (I would have been redeeming miles at a value of .9 cents a mile – not good). But, when the ticket price jumped, that brings the redemption value back into fair territory. If the tickets you need have jumped in price, there still may be award availability and that is one of those great times to book with miles to save all that cash! I did not do that because these particular miles (Aegean miles) I hold to a higher value given their difficulty in earning.
Play With The Calendar
The next option is to open up your calendar (which is what worked for me this time). If you are in control of the schedule, you can take this opportunity to search for a better time to go. Who knows – it could work out really well! Again, in my case, the days that I had wanted to book actually were not my optimal days but it is what I had decided on. With the price hike, I had to play around more with dates and found some more optimal dates that came in much cheaper – that was ok by me!
Break Up The Party
This only works if you are traveling with others, but if a price jumps when searching for, say, 4 people in your party, try changing the number of passengers. The booking engines default to the fare class that has that number of seats available – even if a cheaper fare class still has seats available. So, if your original ticket was at $150 but now sits at $275, drop 1 person from your search to see if it brings back the cheaper price. If not, drop it to 2 people. Booking 2 tickets at a $150 price and 2 tickets at a $275 price is much better than 4 tickets at $275 each! You will all still get there, but just making different reservations.
Rental Cars and Hotels
When it comes to hotels and rental cars, the situation is much easier – just book immediately. Be sure to check hotel cancellation policies, but as long as you are not booking an advanced/non-refundeable rate, you should have until just before you arrive at the hotel to cancel. The price may be higher than you want to spend or the dates may not be nailed down yet, but since you can cancel with no fees, it is worth getting the hotel and car on the books. It makes even more sense with cars. You can book a car rental reservation without even inputting a credit card number! Again, the price may be higher than you wanted to pay, but you always have that to fall back to if you do not find a better deal. Trust me – the $350 for a week starts looking much better than $700 a week when you are actually ready to book!
At the end of the day, if you have to book at the much higher price, sometimes you just need to wince and do it. But, when you hit the purchase button, just remember the thousands of dollars that you have saved by being savvy with miles and points leading up to that moment! It won’t make it feel all better, but it certainly helps the price go down a little easier!