Trying to predict airfare sales has long been a fool’s errand and we have pretty much accepted the fact that fares rise and fall like the stock market, seemingly with no rhyme or reason. But in a break from tradition, airfare sales so far this year have followed a clear, unmistakable pattern. There have been four weeks in 2010 and, each week, one or more airlines has launched some sort of sale late Monday or early Tuesday, offering discounts that are valid for bookings through Thursday of the same week.
This week was no exception. We got a flurry of new fares from the airlines last night, dropping the overnight average lowest fare in domestic markets by $17 — with discounts much steeper than that in some markets. Although this week’s sales were initiated by Virgin America and Southwest, it really doesn’t matter. Airlines virtually always match each others promotions within hours, so by Tuesday night (this week, and the previous three weeks) every major airline had fares on sale.
Who knows if this trend will continue, but for the time being, Wednesday mornings have become prime time for finding air fare bargains.