Chelsea and I are at the point in our lives that I’ll call the third wave of weddings. For us, each wave tends to coincide with graduation from a school, and we have each graduated from three big schools. First, we had some friends that got married straight out of high school, second were those after college, and now we are on the third wave of friends that are getting married at the end of graduate school. Unfortunately for everyone involved, we moved 4000 miles away from this third wave of weddings. Because we live so far away, it simply is not feasible for us to attend all of our friends’ upcoming weddings – in fact we have already missed some.
One of the many prohibitive factors in us going back for many weddings is cost. It is already costing us the better part of a new car just to go back for the few that we have committed to. The major factor of the cost is the price of flights, which is the entire reason for this post. I don’t understand how flights are priced.
I’m sure the pricing of flights is a combination of operating costs, demand, and magic economics, but I don’t really understand why some flights cost what they do. Although I’m not sure I really want the answer, I thought I’d help myself by paying attention to the cost of international flights for different times of the year. To do this I simply created a fare alert for flights I’m interested in and had that alert arrive in my inbox daily.
As one example, below I have plotted the cost of a non-stop flight from London to a US city of interest for the past 3 months. I picked non-stop because in my initial searches this was a convenience well worth paying a small amount for. An 8 hour direct flight is about 10 times better than a 14 hour flight that requires multiple plane changes.
I was actually surprised at the result over time, the price is almost exactly the same as when I started the alert 90 days ago, with fluctuation within £20 in either direction. In this case I have the luxury of waiting to see what the fares look like, but what if I had stopped tracking after 6 weeks?
Had I followed this trend, I would have concluded that the fare increased by an average of £6 pounds per week, and was only going to continue to rise. But only one day later the fare dropped £30. Why did this happen? Why was the fare worth more on Wednesday than Thursday? In the grand scheme of things, a $20 increase doesn’t really matter compared to the $1000 ticket. But eventually, that $20 turns in to $200, and now we are talking significant. I don’t know how or why this happens, but I’m sure I’ll have it as part of a spreadsheet. I’m determined to get the best deals, and convinced that I can figure it out during the time we are here.