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Pro Tips for Cheaper Flights (It's Actually Not Rocket Science)

Two former airline executives share advice on how to navigate airfare purchases.

Ever want to know the secret to getting a cheaper flight?

Early last week, two experts--Bill Brunger, former vice president of continental airlines and Scott Nason, former vice president of revenue management at American Airlines--spoke at a conference hosted by Airlines for America and shed a little light on the science behind airfare pricing, reports Businessweek--which could give you a leg up the next time you have to buy a ticket.

First the basics of pricing: Prices for seats are separated into different market categories--so a single flight can have 20 or more different prices. With this is mind, know that airlines typically overbook flights according to Brunger and Nason, but buying tickets a year in advance won’t necessarily translate into a deal on airfare. 

So what can you do? Well there's no way to game the system, so to speak, but a little common sense goes a long way, according to these experts.

Book early. The pair of experts recommended that you don’t wait too long in the hopes of grabbing a last minute seat at a good price--this doesn’t really happen. Ticket prices will just get higher the closer you get to departure. 

Book at a price you can swallow. If you find a price that you are okay with, you should just go for it. “If the fare feels like a fairly good fare, I would buy,” Nason said. Sometimes, they said, looking around just wastes time.

Stop checking. Once you buy a ticket, do look back. Just accept that you bought at that price and move on. Unless you have the time to learn from changes in prices, checking will just induce buyer's remorse. 

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