If you’re still looking to take a vacation this summer and want to fly, and Iowa State University expert says the best way to save money on a flight is to shop around. ISU Professor of Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Clyde "Skip" Walter, says you’re going to see a wide variety of prices that’ll be changing each day. He says the airlines employ a technique called "yield management," trying to get the biggest dollar yield from every seat.
Walter says they start pricing high and as the date gets closer to the flight, they’ll reduce the price if there are open seats. But, if the plane is getting full, they raise the prices. Walter says computer models tell the airlines where to set the price for a flight.
Walter says airlines aren’t the only industry that does this, the rental car and hotel industry use the same technique. Walter says you have to really do your homework, usually on your computer. He says there are a number of travel sites out there that can help you find the cheapest flight, and many airlines have their own sites.
Walter doesn’t expect the airlines to change things anytime soon. He says several years ago American Airlines tried to put in a simplified structure, and none of the other airlines followed, so the system didn’t last long. With that past history Walter says,"I don’t see it changing anytime soon." Walter says the way the system is now, when airlines encounter problems in meeting their schedules, they no longer have the capacity — in terms of equipment or people — to pick up the slack.