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I booked my flight a couple of months ahead using the AirAsia website to avoid a price increase but now the same ticket is considerably lower on the same website. I felt deceived about my purchase.

Could you explain how the price can drop considerably? I was thinking the sooner you buy the better price you get. Apparently, this was not a correct theory. In that case what time should I book my flight to get the best price?

(a note for the people who suggested How do airlines determine ticket prices? may answer my question. It simply is too broad and beyond my specific question.)

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    It is not at all uncommon that flght tickets are getting cheaper when you come closer to departure. I booked a ticket a few days ago for 275€, which was 490€ a week ago. When getting closer to departure and the airline realizes that they might not get as many passengers onto the plane as anticipated, they will reducde the ticket price to make the flight more attractive. Sep 22 at 7:37
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    flight prices are like stocks: they are going up and down in a way that's mostly unforseeable.
    – Hilmar
    Sep 22 at 15:39
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    Does this answer your question? How do airlines determine ticket prices?
    – shoover
    Sep 22 at 16:13
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    Ticket prices fluctuate. If it bothers you, don't look at the prices after you buy a non-refundable ticket. Sep 22 at 16:48
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    And "why did the ticket price go down" is essentially the same as "how do airlines determine ticket prices" AKA "how does airline ticket pricing work? "
    – shoover
    Sep 22 at 19:33

2 Answers 2

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There are a few factors which can make prices go down:

  • The flight is not filling up as fast as they expected. Usually they have pre-defined prices for a given flight which increase as the flight fills up and/or as the date approaches (because people who want to travel at short notice are often willing to pay more), but if they have a hard time filling all seats they can reduce prices.
  • Promotions and sales. Some airlines have regular sales for marketing reasons during which they will drop prices or increase the number of seats sold at the lower prices.
  • Large numbers of cancellations (or more often, date changes since many tickets can be changed but not refunded). This is usually related to external factors like geopolitical events
  • Addition of capacity on a route.
  • Changes in fuel surcharges related to fluctuations in fuel prices and whatever contracts they have in place on this subject
  • “Correction” of previous increases. For instance Covid disrupted travel a lot and on some routes whatever few flights were left were sold at a premium. Once the crisis is over, things get back to normal.

Like you wouldn’t expect to be charged more if the price increases after you booked, you can’t expect to get a refund if the price decreases. It’s exactly the same as if you bought shares in a company or bitcoin or gold or gas at price X on a given date, if the price goes up or down after that, you can’t say you’ve been deceived. That was the price on that day and that’s about it.

If your ticket is flexible you can try to rebook (taking into account any penalties).

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    Key statement: "Like you wouldn’t expect to be charged more if the price increases after you booked, you can’t expect to get a refund if the price decreases."
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 17:21
  • +1 This situation is called 'contango' on the commodities markets en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contango Sep 23 at 12:17
  • @FreeMan interestingly, Amazon pre-order works asymmetrically, if the price decreases, we get charged with the lower price, and if it increases, we keep the original price.
    – justhalf
    Sep 24 at 1:25
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    For the majority of US airlines now (all of them?) you can in fact get a refund if the price decreases. Most tickets (other than the bare minimum saver fares) are now able to be cancelled, you get a credit, and then you rebook at the new fare. "If your ticket is flexible" is the normal state in 2022 (and most definitely was not the normal state pre-Covid; things have definitely changed). Sep 24 at 3:31
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    (+1) It’s exactly the same as if you bought shares in a company or bitcoin or gold or gas at price X on a given date Not really, you're a customer dealing with a business that controls the price / fare, you cannot resell your ticket (like you would a stock) or use that flight on the day you purchase it (like you would gas or gold). I agree that intuitively you would feel bad if the company increased the price after you bought the ticket but I don't think this has much to do with these others situations you are trying to compare that to, let alone being “exactly” like them.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 24 at 9:18
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That is what can happen with early bought tickets for any kind of transport (and concerts) prices can go up and down.
As a rule they are more likely to go up but unless the ticket seller guarantees it, you can not be sure to have the best price when you buy.

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