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Travel tips: Why you need to set a flight alert even after you book a flight

Set a flight alert (even after you book) so you won't miss out

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NordWood Themes / Unsplash

When you finally book those plane tickets after weeks of research and price tracking, it can be tempting to kick back and stop monitoring flight prices. After all, you locked in your airfare and your travel dates, so why keep checking?

Here’s why — setting flight alerts for your booked itinerary can end up saving you a good chunk of money, preventing a lot of hassle, or both. Airlines constantly adjust pricing, and sometimes lower fares become available even after you purchase tickets. 

How do flight alerts work?

view of the bottom of an airplane on the runway
Joël Super / Pexels

Most major travel sites and airline apps allow you to set up alerts to track specific flights, routes, and dates. You simply enter your flight details and origin/destination airports. The site will then monitor prices for that itinerary and notify you if lower fares become available.

If a cheaper price pops up for the same flight, airline, travel dates, and class of service that you booked, you can cancel your existing reservation (assuming you booked a refundable fare) and re-book at the lower rate. This works even if you purchased non-refundable tickets, as most airlines will allow you to cancel while retaining a travel credit minus any applicable change/cancellation fees.

Flight alerts can score you a better seat or schedule

person taking a picture of the sky from inside airplane
Humphrey Muleba / Pexels

Setting flight alerts doesn’t just allow you to save money from lower fares. You may also be able to score a better seat assignment or revised schedule if availability opens up on your flight.

Airlines sometimes release additional seat inventory closer to the departure date, including coveted aisle, window, or extra legroom seats that may have been previously unavailable when you booked. Your alerts can inform you of these newly opened upgrade options so you can decide if it’s worth switching to a different but still acceptable routing to improve your in-flight experience.

When to set flight alerts

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Felix Rostig / Unsplash

So, at what point is it worth setting up alerts to monitor your flights? Conventional wisdom is to start tracking prices as soon as you book, but many airfare experts recommend going even further—setting alerts before you purchase your tickets.

When you start tracking your preferred dates and routes starting 6-12 months out, you can get a better sense of average price levels and promote, if any, especially low fares, crop up even before you commit. This data allows you to decide if it’s worth booking early or holding out in the hopes of an even lower price down the line.

One important caveat: Many low airfares come with restrictions, like being nonrefundable or having limited flexibility. So, make sure to balance potential savings against any lack of flexibility that could prevent you from making changes down the road.

Between monitoring for sale prices before you book and continuing to track for any new deals after purchasing, staying on top of flight pricing with alerts ensures you’ll never miss out on savings. A bit of extra diligence goes a long way toward scoring the best value on your travel.

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Kelly Baker
Kelly is a writer who loves good books, baking homemade bread, playing the piano, and spending time with her family.
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