We’ve improved our FareTracker alerts

Earlier this week, we finished a new and improved version of our FareTracker alerts.  These alerts allow you to put in certain routes that you want to track (for instance, New York to Orlando) and we will send you an e-mail every time the lowest fare in that market goes up or down.

CheapAir Fare Tracker

Among the enhancements:

1. We’re now including tax in all of our fares.

2. We’re now sending updates throughout the day as fares change, instead of just a single nightly update.  This means you’ll get notified more quickly when a sale starts and get a head start when only a limited number of seats are available.

3. We’re now including, not just the lowest fare, but also the lowest fare for each day of the week.  A common complaint we have received about our FareTracker alerts is that the fares promoted usually only apply for travel on certain days (like Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays).  That’s great if you’re super-flexible, but not much help if you’re looking to plan a weekend trip.

Sign Up for CheapAir FareTracker

Otherwise, let us know what you think of the new alerts (good or bad, we want to hear it).


    1. Esther:

      Right now our FareTracker alerts are only valid for travel from cities within the United States to cities within the United States and Canada. Your request is a very common one. We hear it all the time and are working on further enhancing FareTracker to support international destinations. I can’t give you a precise timetable for when we will complete the development, but we are shooting for sometime within the next few months. We’ll post an update on this blog once we’re finished!

  1. I just tried to find a fare tracker flight and when I clicked on the supposedly available dates on the calendar the seats were all sold out. I tried 6 or 8 dates before I got mad and quit. If the dates are sold out that should be reflected in the calendar.

    1. Deb:

      First off, thanks for your feedback. We really do appreciate hearing our customers’ point of view.

      The issue you bring up is far and away the biggest complaint that we get from those who use our site. Nothing else comes close. Our development team is constantly trying to come up with a better solution, and we are actively testing some different approaches as we speak.

      Here is the problem: airline pricing is not as straightforward as pricing for most other products. The airlines will start by “publishing” a fare, which is to say they will offer a rate of, say, $250 for travel between Los Angeles and New York. They will then post a set of rules to go along with that price. For instance, travel has to be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between April 1st and May 31st. Our flexible date search will scan these offers and apply these rules — that’s how we generate the calendars that show which dates the fares are offered.

      The problem is, just because an airline is theoretically “offering” a fare on a given day, does not mean it is actually available. This is the confusing part. When an airline introduces a sale fare, they will typically only offer a small number of seats on each flight. And they adjust this number constantly, throughout the day. All airlines have very sophisticated “yield management” systems which continuously monitor every flight, check how many seats are booked, and based on that increase or decrease the number of sale seats available. What this means for you is that when we tell you that an airline has a $250 fare to New York and show you a calendar of the dates that fare is being “offered”, we are really only saying that the fare might be available on those dates.

      I am sure you’re thinking “What a waste of time, why not just show me which days actually are available?” That is where the problem lies. To do that, we have to make a request to the airlines’ database for every flight on every day to determine which ones are available. This takes time — in some cases, up to 2 or 3 minutes. Most customers don’t want to wait that long.

      So for now, our flexible date search is only useful to help you identify the lowest possible price and the days that may potentially have that price available. To determine for certain if there are seats on a particular day, you have to click that day. To check all the days, you will have to do quite a few clicks and we know that can be time-consuming and frustrating.

      We’ve checked around at our competitors and there really aren’t any great flexible date products right now. Other sites either don’t do flexible date search at all, only check a day or two before or after your requested date, only support a limited number of cities and routes, or rely on availability data that is several days old and not reliable. None of these are good solutions.

      We have all sorts of ideas on new approaches to this problem, but we’d also love to hear your feedback. Are you willing to wait longer, to get a more comprehensive response? The “experts” are telling us that we can’t go over 10 seconds. Do you agree with that? Please tell us your views — they really will help make our flexible date search better.

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