Farecast: Interesting Airfare Price Prediction and Insurance Tool

Recently, my friend Yogin told me about a website called Farecast.com. It’s actually been around for a while now but somehow I’ve missed it… so maybe you have as well. There’s basically two parts to the website that are unique. Let’s say I’m planning a trip from Portland to San Francisco on 7/25-8/1. First they provide me the lowest fare history, which charts the lowest fare for your trip for up to the last 90 days:

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Pretty cool! You can try to predict any trends yourself or simply see if you’re getting a good price relative to recent history. Another possible way to use the historical information is to help you decide what to bid on a site like Priceline.com or what to accept on Hotwire.

But FareCast also provides their own 7-day fare prediction to help you decide whether to buy now or wait. The arrow show how confident they are about it based on their algorithms:

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To me, I would think the fare might actually rise more given the graph. But according to an independent audit, Farecast’s prediction accuracy was 74.5 percent. Not bad, but not awesome? But they’ll also put a little money where their mouths are by offering fare insurance when they are confident you should wait. Here’s how it works:

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So you pay $10 upfront and wait. If they are wrong and prices go up, they reimburse you the difference. If they are right and prices go down, hopefully you saved at least $10. Worst case, prices stay the same and you’re out $10. This is interesting… anyone use this insurance before? Either way, I’ll definitely use this site in the future as part of my airfare research.

Added
Kayak is great, but don’t forget to try and book directly on the airline’s websites whenever possible, so you can take advantage of price drop refunds.

Comments

  1. This is indeed interesting, but from what I remember reading of them, is that it’s the lowest fare AT ALL for the day for the dates, on ANY airline. The impression I got was: even if I had planned to take the first flight out, and that got more expensive, but, say the red-eye got cheaper, then they don’t owe you anything, since there was a cheaper flight on the date of travel. You may want to verify this though….

  2. Interesting. This is another one of those web sites that make me reminisce about how our society worked before the Internet made many things so much easier.

  3. I love technology. :)

    I think this is great if you are planning a trip in advance. Ig uess it wouldn’t be as useful for those last minute deals. This is a definite site to bookmark!

  4. http://www.kayak.com/ has similar features and it looks like it searches a lot more websites for airfare. Only thing I am not sure if they do is insure.

  5. http://www.kayak.com is another great website for fare tracking. It’s lightweight (AJAX) and very user-friendly. It polls most airlines, travel sites (orbitz, travelocity, expedia) and shows the best prices.

  6. Ivan Tse says:

    I’ve used Farecast several times to check prices, and I generally check it against Travelocity/Expedia/etc. just to double-check. I’ve also found that sometimes the price listed on Farecast isn’t the same as the actual site where the ticket is sold (sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not so).

    I’ve also used Kayak.com (Farecast used to only have domestic flights) which can yield different results.

    Cheers!

  7. Great site! I had not heard of Farecast until now, but I will be checking it for my next trip. Thanks for the info.

  8. Kayak is great. Rob and Alex, I really don’t know why your comments got snipped – sorry about that. I have a plugin that is supposed to compact long URLS.

  9. My only comment about the insurance” is that the only reason they can offer it is because they’re making money on it, which means that — on average — you aren’t. Maybe you’ll get “lucky” and the fare will drop, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

    I like sidestep.com, myself.

  10. Nick – Exactly, which is why one should tend to lean towards their advice even if you don’t buy the insurance. They only offer the insurance when they say to wait with enough confidence, and not otherwise.

  11. Nony-mouse says:

    This is what i do when booking a flight.

    Check orbitz…and see which airline is offering the price i want. Then go to that airline website and book directly.

    Sometimes u get online booking bonus miles but you will definately save the $5 booking fee.

    The only thing I have noticed something better about orbitz is that the time schedule is more flexible for the price on orbitz than it is directly on the airline webpage.

  12. SavingEverything says:

    Great points. Dont forget all the other sites for comparison airline shopping like Kayak, Site59, Sidestep, Farecast, and the goliaths expedia, cheaptickets, orbitz,. My grievances: the historical graphs depict the prices for a given from/to trip; it doenst consider nonstops, 1-stops, or 2-stops, unless the designation only has nonstops. Also, their predictions arent always correct and I used their “waiting; confidence 80%” to wait on a trip, to find out that after 3 days at this prediction, they changed it to “Buy now; confidence 75% prices will increase”.. and that was only after the airline tickets were ~$49 more.

  13. Another great website for hunting good airline deals is Yapta at http://www.yapta.com
    You download a web browser plug in and as you search for fares you can have Yapta ‘track it’. It checks the price once a day (or more) and you can set a threshold level (i.e. if the price drops more than say $50) and it’ll send you an e-mail. Another great feature is if you enter in your purchased itinerary and the prices drops after you’ve purchased it; it will alert you when you qualify for a refund from the airline company. It’s still in beta but its a great way to track airline prices and of course save money!

  14. John Ashton says:

    Farecasat still has some work to do before they become something i would use consistantly. The current world political/economic state is too crazy to really be accurate down the line. Plus when I look for travel I want a lot more comprehensive offering. Like Nick mentioned, I like Sidestep myself. They keep growing in their offering and since my friend introduced the site to me a little over a year ago, I haven?t used anything else

  15. Another good airline site is http://www.milemaven.com
    This site can be used to check for opportunities to earn extra frequent flyer miles or bonuses, which I increasingly view as “free money.” I just purchased a ticket for my mother, and was able to get 2200 extra miles for her thanks to milemaven.

  16. I’m famous. Thanks for my 15 seconds J.

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