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Sudden, Massive Price Hike on Flight

I've been researching a flight plan for my vacation this summer. For weeks, the price stayed relatively stable, ranging from $1650 to $1760. All of a sudden, a couple of days ago, the flight shot up to $2400. I'm freaking out.

Why did this happen? Should I wait to see if the flight price goes back down (and how long should I wait?), or should I look into alternative routes?

Here's the flight info from Google Flights:

Thank you for your help.

Posted by
6258 posts

Yes, wait....Delta sometimes has these jumps. You're flying from a large market so just hang on.

I would try to clear your cookies and search the Delta site on Saturday afternoon or Tuesday AM. Those timings may be folklore, but I'd still try! I think the cookie-clearing thing is also folklore but I always do it with Delta.

Posted by
5174 posts

Please relax. This is like the stock market - tons of ups and downs, including large spikes. Everything is automated and computer algorithms change the prices constantly based on demand, capacity, fuel prices, etc. etc. What you see depends on exactly when you look. Be as flexible as you can and look at all airlines that serve that route - don't stick to one airline.

Posted by
12843 posts

You're traveling to Asia, and I know I'm not alone on the forum at having never done that or shopped for an airline ticket to that region. The comments below come from a not-terribly-useful background.

After I bought it, the ticket for my 2018 trip to Europe bounced repeatedly between almost-$900 and almost-$1400.

If you have watched for quite some time as the fare hovered around $1700 and it has now spiked to over $2400, this may indicate that drops below the $1700 range are very unlikely. There is absolutely no guarantee that a fare will remain the same or even close to the same as you get closer to the departure date.

I also see that you are looking at an outbound non-stop on a route with a lot more connecting flights. Your choice is obviously going to be more popular than the ones involving connections. For European flights I've often observed a widening of the price gap between non-stop flights and connecting flights as the travel date approaches, so I think at this point you should consider the possibility that the fare may not ever come down. I'd be looking at connecting flights and deciding which one or two I liked best, just in case nothing good happens to the non-stop fare in the next two weeks or so.

Posted by
815 posts

The cheapest way to fly nonstop to Asia is to leave from Los Angeles or Toronto. It might be cheaper to fly to one of these cities, stay overnight and continue on to Asia. Another benefit is that you would break up a very long trip.

Posted by
5392 posts

I agree that you have time to wait a bit to see if it goes back down. But, if that makes you nervous and you're willing to give up the non-stop from DC to Seoul and settle for a 1-stop flight that's only 2 hrs longer (total flight time), you can fly on Air Canada with a stop in Toronto each way for around $1400. The inconvenience might be worth $1000 to you.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for your help, everyone. I'm probably going to keep tracking it for a week. If it doesn't significantly go down from $2400, I'll book the Air Canada flight with the layover both ways.

It's frustrating because I know that as soon as I give up and book the other flight, my original first-choice flight will suddenly drop in price. That's just what always happens to me. But oh well.

Posted by
1 posts

I was wondering the same thing about flights to Rome in September, the price jumped this week almost 250 per person on Air Canada, kinda caught me off guard, all other airlines seem to be same prices just not sure of a good carrier to Rome, why does this happen and any suggested airlines.

Posted by
12843 posts

There is no human-understandable "why". There are computers at work. I've seen fares on a flight I've already purchased bounce up and down by $500 repeatedly. On that occasion the changes occurred every few days. But fares do tend to increase as the departure date approaches, especially on non-stop flights to destinations where there are also connections available. There's no way to know whether your $250 upward bounce will be followed by a dip or means the fare will continue to move upward. You can only wait and see.

I use Google Flights with no preconceived notion about airlines except a personal unwillingness to take what I call "commuter" airlines--things like Delta Connection, United Express, etc. I prefer my airlines to be the ones with the most experienced pilots. So if I need to make a connection, there will be some routings I do not consider.

Posted by
381 posts

Factors other than computers are also at work. Germania Airlines is bankrupt. Joon is shutting down, as is Norway based NAS. VLM is bankrupt. Small Planet Group has closed. Ryanair and EasyJet are barely profitable (as far as we know) and struggling under increased borrowing costs due to rising interest rates. Alitalia is being looked at for nationalization by an Italian gov't that doesn't want to do that but also doesn't want to lose the national airline to insolvency. Brexit has the Spanish gov't up in arms as their "national" airline turns out to be British owned and will lose its right to operate in the EU if they can't make a Brexit deal.

Airlines are an extremely hard business to run with razor thin profit margins trying to survive in a world full of customers who want to pay Ryanair prices for a Air Cathay flight experience. The end of "Quantitative Easing" and 0% loans is going to impact airfares in multiple ways. You can expect higher operating costs. You can expect older aircraft with associated maintenance issues. You can expect more airlines (and not just small ones) having trouble staying competitive.

Posted by
2665 posts

One thing you might do is to look at the seating charts, if you can, before you buy. If there is lots of availability, chances are that the prices will drop again. It would seem likely that at this time, 4 - 5 months out, there will still be some big swings. That assumes, of course, that there is no special event going on at your destination.

Posted by
2164 posts

I signed up for Scott’s flight notifications quite a while ago (took about 6 months for the free notification emails to arrive daily) and there were $600 flights from everywhere North America to everywhere Balkans including Slovenia about 2 weeks ago. I checked and the flights really existed for at least 24 hours. Not for the summer though.