While I mentioned the other day that I gave up flying a few years ago, many of you will be traveling by air for the holidays. And usually, air travel is the most expensive during this time of year – especially since the airlines just added a $10 surcharge for those flying on the busiest days. But there is a free service called Farecast (which now looks to be owned by Microsoft), which can help you decide exactly when you should buy your ticket by using airfare price predictions. I used this back in 2007 and it certainly did help us to get a lower-priced ticket. In what comes across as Greek to me, here is how they explain their system:
In order to test our predictive accuracy we have developed computer programs that simulate passengers buying airfares based upon prices from real data we process and store every day (sometimes referred to as “back testing”). We build sequences of models for each day we have data and simulate a distribution of passengers with different economic constraints purchasing tickets, similar to those found in the real world. Each simulated passenger receives a recommendation for the day and market they are shopping from the predictive models. We tally up the results of the outcomes of recommendations made to thousands of simulated passengers. This data tells us how accurate we are and how much money was saved or lost by our simulated customers. Although the simulations do not mimic real life exactly, they provide a close enough approximation for us to understand the efficacy of our technology.
If you are going to be traveling this holiday season, you might want to check this site out. Flying is getting more and more expensive, so if you can save a few bucks when buying a ticket, it’s definitely worth the effort.