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Undecided travelers may save big with airline fare lock
travel/876/493/travelersretuers.JPG?ve=1 it takes years for the information to trickle down,” said George Hobica, founder and president of AirfareWatchdog.com.
Sorensen believes that the fare lock option makes sense in some situations but said there’s no way for consumers to predict when United will offer it.
“United has a complex algorithm, when the risk is minimized for the airline, in terms of offering the hold, it will offer it,” he said. “It’s not something the consumer can rely on. That is a major problem associated with this approach. It protects the airline but it’s something that the consumer can’t count on.”
So, when is United’s fare lock option worth the money? There are several scenarios to consider when making an informed decision about your upcoming flight purchase.
Think about 3, 7, 14 and 21-day advance purchase rules. Some airlines also have 1-day and 30-day advance purchase fares, but 3,7, 14 and 21 are the most common. So if you’re thinking about booking a flight for a departure in eight days, for example, but won’t be ready to commit for a few days, you might be able to lock in a 7-day advance purchase fare using fare lock.
An educated consumer will know a good fare when they see it. You won’t know if a fare is worth paying to lock if you don’t follow the market. Sign up for the airlines’ individual fare alerts or if you’re tracking a specific route, use price alerts on Kayak. Hipmunk or another flight search site. For many itineraries, Kayak also provides a recommendation on whether the price is likely to go up or down in the upper left side of its search results page.
Waiting on miles. If you’re using miles for one or more persons in your party, and you know you have miles that will soon post to your account, or you need time to move miles from one account to another one, it might make sense to use fare lock, if it’s offered.
Waiting on your boss or friends. If you see a great fare but don’t know if you can get time off of work or if you can find a travel companion, you might consider fare lock.
Find a hotel room and a car before confirming. A great airfare doesn’t help much if you can’t find a good deal on a hotel or rental car. Fare lock can buy you some time to confirm the rest of your trip before committing.