How to set price alerts for cheap flights

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Airfare tracking can turn a sane person into a conspiracy theorist. Do airlines track my computer? Will I be penalized if I book on a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday?

The truth is that air fares are dynamic. Pricing algorithms are influenced by a long list of factors – the time you fly, how many seats have been sold, location demand, etc.

You could spend endless time tracking the prices and clicking refresh to see the airfares go up and down until you get a deal. Or you can set up price alerts that will do this for you.

Price alerts use algorithms to track specific flights, routes and dates based on your preferences, then notify you when the price changes. You can search very specifically (a round-trip Delta flight from Los Angeles to Miami) or broader if your plans are flexible (a one-way flight to Chicago from the DC area).

If Carrie Bradley, editor of family travel blog Flying With A Baby, has enough lead time before a trip, she sets up price alerts and plays around with different search configurations. To find more options, she tinkers with the number of stopovers, fare class, and flying in and out of different cities (“open jaws”).

The result? Hopefully a cheaper ticket than she would find on her own. Here are four of our favorite sites and apps to start tracking.

Google Flights is an expert favorite. It is well known and easy to use and helps travelers further Filter searches, book flights, view CO2 emissions from flights and, most importantly, track cheap flights.

Gunnar Olson, flight deals analyst and travel reporter at Thrifty Traveler, said that of all airfare trackers, Google tops the list with its calendar search feature and ability to tell if you’re getting a good deal on a particular fare. The only disadvantage? It doesn’t cover all airlines, with major omissions, including Southwest.

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First, go to Google Flights, then select your route and additional details such as: B. the number of stops, your cabin class and the number of tickets required. Then turn on Track Prices to receive email updates when prices change for your travel dates. If your travel dates are flexible, you can select “any dates” for more options.

“Google will also warn you if you’re postponing your trip by a day to save money, too,” Olson said. “Flexibility is key when you want to save when you travel, and Google Flights automates that flexibility.”

Skyscanner is Bradley’s first stop for ticket purchases. To set up a price alert, search for your route and specific dates, then click “Get Price Alert” which should appear next to the results. Once you have entered your email address, you will receive an email from Skyscanner to confirm your notification.

If you sign up for multiple alerts, Skyscanner will bundle them into one email so you don’t get overwhelmed. When searching for flights departing in less than 100 days, Skyscanner will send you an email every day. For departures that depart more than 100 days from now, you will receive an email once a week as prices tend to be more stable further out.

The Hopper mobile app can monitor airfare, hotel and rental car prices and tell users whether to wait or buy based on analysis of airfare and historical data.

After downloading the app, search for your flight, then select View This Trip to be notified when prices change. If you think you’ve seen a good deal but aren’t quite sure if you want to book, you can hold the rate with a temporary price freeze. Expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $40, depending on how long you want to keep the plan (you have up to a week).

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The online travel agency Kayak is a platform for searching for flights, rental cars, hotels, train tickets, package tours and activities (e.g. bus tours and museum visits).

To create a Kayak price alert for a search, start by searching for the flight you want. Once your results appear, you’ll see the option to track prices, along with Kayak’s advice on whether to buy now or wait based on their predictions. You can also set up a flexible alarm by selecting Flexible dates and choosing from options like Anytime, Upcoming weekends, or a specific month.

If your price tracker is set, you will be notified by email (or push notification if you have the Kayak app) when there are significant price changes.

While less specific than price trackers, cheap flight alert subscriptions can help you find deals. You can sign up for newsletters from sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights, Thrifty Traveler, Airfarespot and Airfarewatchdog to receive offers based on your home airport or region. You may receive an offer in your inbox that suits your travel needs.