Travel

Best way to book a return trip to London with British Airways

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  • Jun 10th, 2018 6:40 pm
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Dec 31, 2009
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Best way to book a return trip to London with British Airways

I haven't booked a major flight in ages, so, I am looking to fly from Montreal to London via British Airways in October.

So, just wondering if it is best to do it direct with them? Or a third party site? Or at a specific day/time (I seem to recall Tueday nights).

I'd also be looking to book hotel (again, if best to go with them, a package deal, or third party).

Thanks for any and all advice!
11 replies
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I would check prices with all sites and then book with the Airline. Prices are generally very close if not the same and the security of getting your ticket with the airline is better, if anything goes awry.
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There's no specific date or time to book airline tickets. I don't know how or where this myth started. Airline prices can change at any time of the day and any day of the week. Book it when your comfortable with the price and don't look back.
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BrunetteGirl wrote: There's no specific date or time to book airline tickets. I don't know how or where this myth started. Airline prices can change at any time of the day and any day of the week. Book it when your comfortable with the price and don't look back.
I cannot tell about exact current situation -- but for years I observed mid-week down, week-end up trend.
It is not a rule, there is a lot of situation when it was not observed.
A bit more generic trend I saw: if price to be changed up or down,
it happens more often on Tuesday or Thursday night, less often
Monday and Wednesday and almost never on weekends.

Of course if it is one week before flight -- price is changing every half-a-day.

I played this trend several times (let say 5 times) and twice was lucky:
I purchased a ticket with free 24 hours full return option (AirFrance/KLM and AirCanada).
Monday at ~23:00. And 2 out of 5 times a ticket was re-booked 50-150$ lower in next 24 hours.
Yes, this can be done in any day of the week, but Monday evening has more chances.
In another 2 cases, within next 24 hours, price was the same and one time it was up.

Currently, analytical departments of airlines are very strong with all
BI/Statistics tools. It means better demand prediction and less
price drops. But still, if (IF!) some mild price drop is necessary,
it rather happens mid-week -- as week-end purchases are physiologically
more under the pressure to be completed -- finish it before new working week.

Cheers!

A.
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tequilla wrote: I cannot tell about exact current situation -- but for years I observed mid-week down, week-end up trend.
It is not a rule, there is a lot of situation when it was not observed.
A bit more generic trend I saw: if price to be changed up or down,
it happens more often on Tuesday or Thursday night, less often
Monday and Wednesday and almost never on weekends.

Of course if it is one week before flight -- price is changing every half-a-day.

I played this trend several times (let say 5 times) and twice was lucky:
I purchased a ticket with free 24 hours full return option (AirFrance/KLM and AirCanada).
Monday at ~23:00. And 2 out of 5 times a ticket was re-booked 50-150$ lower in next 24 hours.
Yes, this can be done in any day of the week, but Monday evening has more chances.
In another 2 cases, within next 24 hours, price was the same and one time it was up.

Currently, analytical departments of airlines are very strong with all
BI/Statistics tools. It means better demand prediction and less
price drops. But still, if (IF!) some mild price drop is necessary,
it rather happens mid-week -- as week-end purchases are physiologically
more under the pressure to be completed -- finish it before new working week.

Cheers!

A.
I work closely with the payload department (or what you refer to as "analytical" department) of a major airline in Canada.

Fare codes / price buckets are all pre-determined 364 days in advance (sometimes published more around the 360 day mark depending on the airline/route). Meaning a flight YYZ-YUL will start at " A class" will have X amount of seats and will sell for $99 (before taxes and fees) "B class" will be $94 etc etc. In GDS you can actually go and view every class of service available for a date/route and the price it will be (something that consumes can't do). Also keep in mind that each class of service has certain stipulations to it:
Ex. You price a ticket online to LHR for 2 weeks leaving on a Wed at S class and it's $1000 but if you price 2 weeks leaving on a Saturday it's more (the fare rule could stipulate that in order to get S class you need to stay over 2 weekends).

Add in things like a "seat sale" that a % is added as a discount to each fare bucket and this can slightly change things in terms of prices changing.

As people buy / release tickets and given that anyone with access to a GDS can even hold a ticket for X amount of time you can easily get constantly changing fares. Also factor in if your looking at 3rd party sites who have their own contracts with the airline and have their own "special" or "net" fares and there own fare classes it could be decieving to the consumer.

...there's just so many factors coming into play which I haven't even mentioned (pre-allotted seats for FF programs, codeshare agreements)

So that's why the whole "book at a certain day/time of the week" myth and the "clear your cookies" to get a better price doesn't make sense. I assure you even at the largest airlines nobody is sitting in payload 24/7 analyzing this (marketing tracks website traffic for various reasons which is a whole different story).

So that's why I stand by the "book when your comfortable" and often some common sense (travelling over a high demand period like Christmas) you are always best to book early.
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BrunetteGirl wrote: I work closely with....
In GDS you can actually go and view every class of service available for a date/route and the price it will be (something that consumes can't do). Also keep in mind that each class of service has certain stipulations to it:......
Great information but, GDS? :)
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BrunetteGirl,

Thanks, I like listen to professionals :-)

Now, let see what I have from Google flight price tracking.
1 - Monday, 7- Sunday, (+) is increase and (-) is a decrease in price.
In last 30 days before flight prices are rather unstable and NOT considered.

2017 Fri, Feb 24 8:55 PM–10:05 AM+1 Air Canada Nonstop YUL–GVA
Sun, Mar 5 11:50 AM–2:10 PM Air Canada Nonstop GVA–YUL
statistics from -128 to -30 days
1: + -
2: -
3: ++++ -
4: ++ -
5: +
6: no change
7: + --

2018 Fri, Feb 23 8:55 PM–10:05 AM+1 Air Canada Nonstop YUL–GVA
Sun, Mar 4 12:00 PM–2:20 PM Air Canada Nonstop GVA–YUL
statistics from -204 to -30 days
1: + -
2: ++ -
3: ++ ----
4: +++
5: +++
6: +--
7: no change

So, we can observe the following:
* contrary to my believe there are changes in weekend, but in average less than mid-week.
* Thursday and Friday - price mainly goes up.
* Wednesday -- changes are about twice more frequent Wednesday than average over all days.
* There are more price increases than decreases -- two factors noted here:
** price slowly going up over time
** decreases are bigger than increases.

Thus, I also stand by observation that most changes happening mid-week and
week-ends are a bit more expensive. From another hand numbers are more
distributed than I believed and close to your picture.

Actually both you and me can be right in the same time:
You describe rather complex pricing system without any specific
week-day algorithms. But human behavior (purchasing, hold, return patterns)
is big factor for price and -- I believe -- humans have
week-day-week-end patterns.
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Illustration for previous post on price history
Google_Flights.PNG
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Pete_Coach wrote: Great information but, GDS? :)
Sorry sometimes I type the way I talk and should of explained. GDS th airlines system / TA's use which is live inventory. Don't like to quote Wikipedia but it explains it pretty well:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ ... ion_system

GDS systems (most common these days: Sabre, Amadeus and then Apollo/Galilleo maybe). They are all DOS systems/command based (not point and click)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compute ... or_systems

That's why on most airline websites you sometimes go and confirm a flight price and at check out the price changes (because only at that point is the reservation being fed to GDS and picking up "live" pricing.

Furthermore, on 3rd party sites that's why people get a call after they book saying the price changed. After you book on the website there is someone sitting at a desk somewhere responsible for actually "ticketing" the reservation (feeding the reservation manually to their GDS- I'm referring to airline reservations). I'm not aware of any 3rd party site that feeds GDS directly.

That's why Pete your totally accurate in terms of "more issues" happening when booking 3rd party sites VS directly with the airline. Not knocking 3rd party sites as many of them still get net/special fares and you can save some $$$ but ALWAYS take your reservation code and check it on the airlines website for accuracy ASAP.

In Canada when booking ITC packages (pre packaged Vacations) everyone's website only hits the GDS system (Softvoyage) once you get to the payment screen. That's why you will notice a lot of websites look the same (Red tag, itravel, Trip Central, Sell off etc).

Trying to find a good screenshot of GDS on the web but here is the best I found- you will see fare classes listed next to available flight segments and how many fares per fare class:
LX 1755 the top row starting with J9 is the highest fare available in business class
The bottom row is economy starting with Y9

Letter = class of service
# next to it = how many seats available

You will see some letters with 0 next to it meaning the fares in those classes are sold out. You also have the availablility to see what each letter means the "K"class shows 0 seats but it could just mean that since it's the cheapest possible fare available it had "advance purchase" stipulations and had to be bought 6+ months out prior to the flight.

You will also see at the bottom of the screen "ticket time limit" which indicates how long you can hold the fare without payment.

I just picked this screenshot of a quick google search but there are codes/info on it that indicates to me it could just be a "dummy" screen (since all these GDS systems require pretty extensive training and have a comprehensive dummy system)

Image
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tequilla wrote: BrunetteGirl,

Thanks, I like listen to professionals :-)

Now, let see what I have from Google flight price tracking.
1 - Monday, 7- Sunday, (+) is increase and (-) is a decrease in price.
In last 30 days before flight prices are rather unstable and NOT considered.

2017 Fri, Feb 24 8:55 PM–10:05 AM+1 Air Canada Nonstop YUL–GVA
Sun, Mar 5 11:50 AM–2:10 PM Air Canada Nonstop GVA–YUL
statistics from -128 to -30 days
1: + -
2: -
3: ++++ -
4: ++ -
5: +
6: no change
7: + --

2018 Fri, Feb 23 8:55 PM–10:05 AM+1 Air Canada Nonstop YUL–GVA
Sun, Mar 4 12:00 PM–2:20 PM Air Canada Nonstop GVA–YUL
statistics from -204 to -30 days
1: + -
2: ++ -
3: ++ ----
4: +++
5: +++
6: +--
7: no change

So, we can observe the following:
* contrary to my believe there are changes in weekend, but in average less than mid-week.
* Thursday and Friday - price mainly goes up.
* Wednesday -- changes are about twice more frequent Wednesday than average over all days.
* There are more price increases than decreases -- two factors noted here:
** price slowly going up over time
** decreases are bigger than increases.

Thus, I also stand by observation that most changes happening mid-week and
week-ends are a bit more expensive. From another hand numbers are more
distributed than I believed and close to your picture.

Actually both you and me can be right in the same time:
You describe rather complex pricing system without any specific
week-day algorithms. But human behavior (purchasing, hold, return patterns)
is big factor for price and -- I believe -- humans have
week-day-week-end patterns.
I agree and disagree with you as you are looking st patterns.

I think given what you have researched and from what I know in regards to stats from the airline:
- Business travel (a big market) is booked mid week. Most business travellers whether dealing with the airline directly or using corporate TA's will book/make changes mid week resulting in space being held/released and causing airfares to fluctuate and in turn affecting fare classes
- Leisure travel bookings peak Thursday & Friday (when many people get paid) and even Saturday/ Sunday

In terms of week / day algorithms there really aren't any as I said the fare classes are all pre-determined a year in advance (360 days-ish) just to generalize.

From my screen shot example I gave above there could be a "Q" class fare that might be slightly cheaper then fares booked earlier on that stipulates it is only available if ticketed between 30-35 days in advance. Each "letter" has fare "rules" that determine how far in advance the fare must be booked / if the fare can be achieved if booking roundtrip, one way, open jaw or multicity / if the fare requires a length of stay etc etc. I've seen 2 page long fare rules so I'm just giving some basic examples.

My point is- you can give you me a flight itinerary (so let's say:
YYZ - LHR AC 858 on June 1 2019 in economy..

I can go into GDS and tell you what all the prices would be in advance as per all the fare classes available
Example (im just using example letters to make it easier)
A class lowest fare available $299
b class will be= $312
c class will be= $355
... and on and on

Would anyone sit around and do that? Probably not as it would be time consuming and tedious but it can certainly be done.

Edit: I hope I don't come off as a condescending know it all. Any advice I give on this forum is the same I give when family and friends ask for my advice (and just a few days ago I had one of my friends ask me if she should of waited to book her flight because it's cheaper on Wednesdays. I wouldn't go into this detail unless asked but I hope this info helps someone save $ and makes them a more educated consumer when booking something :)
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BrunetteGirl, Thanks for info. Now I see no disagreement except
some difference in terminology. It is often happens this was --
people looks like arguing but, de-facto, talking almost the same things:

1. The system (set of pricing business rules) has no
"special Wednesday" or "high price week-end" rules.

2. People purchasing (+hold, + return) behaviour has week-period patterns,
especially if divided into business/leisure and service level segments.
(segmentation is very powerful tool in descriptive statics
and then in predictive modelling).

3. "Observed Lowest Price" (OLP) is combination of system pricing and
purchasing activity in any concrete point of time.
(Fluctuation of OLP is not fluctuation of the same ticket but
rather different ticket types are become available, or time-outed, or
sold-out. )

4. Thus, "Observed Lowest Price" has some dependence on week day
due to purchasing patterns.
(Ex: week-end is a bit more expensive, no decrease on Thursday and Fridays.
as observed for economy tickets from -8 to -1 month before flight )

5. With better analytics and better predictive modelling we recently have
less and less fluctuations and less week-day "OLP" patterns.

Also, I completely support and actually use your other suggestions:
* get ticket as soon as possible after decision is made and
* do not look back after purchasing .

Cheers !

A.
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Jun 15, 2015
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tequilla wrote: BrunetteGirl, Thanks for info. Now I see no disagreement except
some difference in terminology. It is often happens this was --
people looks like arguing but, de-facto, talking almost the same things:

1. The system (set of pricing business rules) has no
"special Wednesday" or "high price week-end" rules.

2. People purchasing (+hold, + return) behaviour has week-period patterns,
especially if divided into business/leisure and service level segments.
(segmentation is very powerful tool in descriptive statics
and then in predictive modelling).

3. "Observed Lowest Price" (OLP) is combination of system pricing and
purchasing activity in any concrete point of time.
(Fluctuation of OLP is not fluctuation of the same ticket but
rather different ticket types are become available, or time-outed, or
sold-out. )

4. Thus, "Observed Lowest Price" has some dependence on week day
due to purchasing patterns.
(Ex: week-end is a bit more expensive, no decrease on Thursday and Fridays.
as observed for economy tickets from -8 to -1 month before flight )

5. With better analytics and better predictive modelling we recently have
less and less fluctuations and less week-day "OLP" patterns.

Also, I completely support and actually use your other suggestions:
* get ticket as soon as possible after decision is made and
* do not look back after purchasing .

Cheers !

A.
Agreed.

I was trying to find some (public) link to which fare classes are associated to each type of fare with AC for example (Example: is A,B,C,D are Flex fares etc etc). Interesting I could not find a recent one. This is outdated obviously but if you find a current one this would be helpful:
https://www.aircanada.com/content/dam/a ... ucture.pdf

So as an example from the link:
Tango = W,G,L,S,T,A,K
**letters are listed from highest (most $$) to least expensive

Exceptions:
- If there's a seat sale of some sort you may have to go all the way to the booking screen to see the "letter" associated with the class of service. Sometimes certain "letters" are reserved only for "seat sale fares" OR it could be a % off a certain fare (I've seen it work both ways).

- If you are using a 3rd party (will use Expedia for example as I have seen them call their net fares "special fares"). Keep an eye on the "code" because that is why you sometimes hear stories of someone booking through a 3rd party and being told they absolutely cannot make a change or the change fee is higher then the airline.

... I find these codes are often buried in the check out screen so you may have to look closely for it.

Hope this helps anyone be the educated consumer before pulling the trigger :)

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