We'll tell you when fares are low, not where they're going to go

George Hobica, June 30, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    It's airfare Magic 8 Ball season again, with airfare pundits predicting where fares are heading next. We've been in the airfare reporting business for over 10 years now, and one thing we've learned is that you cannot outguess the airlines, or the economy, or oil prices. That's why we don't make airfare predictions. We just think it's misleading. Sure, we'd get on the Tee-Vee and our name in the papers more often if we went out on a limb, but too often we've seen people on those limbs fall on their faces when they get sawed off.

    Sure, we can tell you that as of today, pubished fares for summer travel to Europe , for example, are higher than they were back in the spring (we cannot tell you, however, how many seats were sold at what fares on what routes on what airlines, however). But if we could really predict airfares, we'd have stopped flying commerical long ago. No sirree, we'd be in our comfy Gulfstream sipping vintage Veuve Cliquot instead of at the back of the plane nursing a warm beer.

    The problem with predictions is that it can mislead consumers, and cause them to buy fares sooner than they should. It's just like predicting the stock market, and good luck with that.

    And when you come to think of it, if there were one Web site that could accurately and consistently predict airfares, then wouldn't every other airfare site be history by now? Instead, there seems to be a new one popping up every month.

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