We all know the stress that can go into buying a plane ticket; the constant fare watching, trying to predict price fluctuations, deciding when to pull the trigger and buy, and then helplessly watching the prices drop just after we purchase. The stakes are also much higher when you are booking to Argentina, you could be gambling with a few hundred dollars in price difference. The truth of the matter is buying a plane ticket is much like walking into a casino, there is no perfect equation of how to get the cheapest fare, but there are some tricks of the trade.
In no way do I claim that I have this figured out, I just have a few tricks that have helped me in the past when buying tickets back and forth from USA to Argentina. Here are a few of my tips but if you have other suggestions feel free to comment!!
1. Intensive research
I start casually researching ticket prices about 5 months before a trip (in actuality I am almost always “casually” researching tickets) then about 4 months before a trip I start checking prices almost daily. My favorite sites to look at are Kayak.com and Vayama.com. Also, don’t forget looking directly on airline websites for their own promotions. American Airlines’ recent dispute with websites such as Orbitz have caused them to take their fares off many of those websites and promote buying directly with them. LAN has also been known to have a good deal or two, but look often because these deals go fast!!
2. Be flexible with your dates
Be as flexible as possible with your dates. Avoid traveling on Thursdays-Sundays whenever you can. Waiting to travel on Tuesday or Wednesday could save you some serious money.
3. Buy tickets on Tuesdays
I’ve read this on several websites and recently I found it to be true. It seems that many airlines purge their systems of all “held” tickets on Tuesday mornings, so Tuesday afternoons prices drop and then steadily rise again all week long only to drop again on Tuesday morning.
4. Find the sweet spot
Buy too far ahead of time and you’ll be buying at the prices airlines hope to sell their tickets at. Buy too close to your trip and there might not be that many available seats left causing prices to rise. There is a sweet spot in between where prices are at their lowest. In flying to and from Buenos Aires I’ve found a little less than 3 months out is a good time. If you’re feeling really lucky, you can gamble and hold out even longer to get a last minute cheap fare. But be forewarned, with long-haul international flights this waiting game has only two outcomes- really good, or really bad.
5. Frequent flier miles
Pick one airline or airline company group (like Oneworld Alliance, which encompasses LAN, American, and many others) and stick with them! The number of miles you can accumulate flying back and forth to Argentina can be pretty impressive and it’s only logical that you start accumulatin miles to count towards your next trip. Keep this in mind when comparing fares between two companies. If there is not a big difference in price it might be worth it to chose a company you can bank miles with- it could help you in the long run!
6. Don’t look back
Once you buy your ticket, don’t look back! You will only fill yourself with self-hatred should the price of the flight drop and chances are, there is not much you can do about it anyways. Most airlines charge about US$200 for a change/cancellation, so unless the prices drop more than $200 you’re out of luck. Just start looking forward to your trip!
Happy (and cheap) travels!!