Why aren’t we all using a flight price predictor? We all go through the stress of not knowing whether to hit that ‘buy’ button on that pricy air fare or not. Should we wait to see if the price goes down further? But if we wait too long, perhaps the price will only go up even more? What would Madame Curie do? Well, a Millennial-born Curie would have probably consulted travel websites using a machine-learning algorithm to predict whether a price will rise or fall during a consumer’s online search. Bing.com has been at the farecasting game for some time now, so has Kayak.com. What these sites do is use statistical models and data crunching to offer you percentages on whether or not you should buy the flight. And if Kayak or Bing doesn’t have enough data to make a confident prediction, they are kind enough to say as much.
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Industry experts say that if you’re in doubt of the algorithms, you are better off sticking to the industry’s universal school of thought: that the ideal time to book a ticket is about 20 to 30 days in advance for domestic fares and slightly longer for international trips. “In the end, even though my analysis shows that you might not save any money following Kayak’s algorithm as opposed to buying tickets two weeks ahead of your scheduled departure, it still might be worth your time and energy to use airfare prediction software,” said Kaiser Fung, a statistician and an adjunct professor at New York University in article for Five Thirty Eight. “Why? Because following the algorithm isn’t going to cost you more money, and it might actually relieve some of the second-guessing that occurs when you’re left to your own devices.”
Here’s how the flight price predictor works, if you are looking for a flight from, say, New York to Miami, Kayak finds a fare and then offers you a percentage on whether you should buy it or not. The higher the percentage the better the purchase and both websites also offer charts with their predictions that show the recent price fluctuations in a desired route. Kayak has said its “model has been 73 (percent) accurate on forecasting whether these fares will rise or stay within $20 of the current price over the next (seven) days.” But is it a perfect science yet? No. But most of the time, using sites like Kayak and Bing will give you the peace of mind you need in this “up in the air” world of farecasting so you can enjoy your trip.