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Tickets on sale as airlines battle for customers

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AIR TICKET SALES. Several European and Asian airlines run sales campaigns in January and February, all trying to beat competitors as they head into yet another year of uncertainty for the business.

For travelers, this could mean bargain prices — especially if you want to plan ahead. Many campaigns end in January, or run through February, so if you plan a trip next fall you’d need to get on top of your schedule fast.

British Airways, among others, on Tuesday ran a big banner on its UK web page, advising visitors they needed to book no later than January 22 in order to secure extra low prices. Among the destinations featured were New York, Istanbul and Calgary.

Lufthansa of Germany at the same time boasted a campaign stating “Discover Europe with Lufthansa”, with low prices to several European cities.

Nordic airline SAS, that was reported to be close to bankruptcy as late as in November, but was saved by late-night negotiations with the unions to cut costs, also went into the new year with a sales drive to get people on its flights. Ending on January 15, a web campaign featured 1 million tickets on sale to various destinations. However, its German version of the site stated January 22 as last date for discount bookings.

Also joining the rush was Asian budget airline Air Asia, running a sale that, too, was said to end on January 22. More modest in their attempts to attract new customers were Delta and United of the United States, neither of which running any major web campaigns at the time of the Reporter’s check in January.

 

But whether you should jump on the sales train, or wait to see if prices fall further, is not easy to know. Online travel firm Kayak has turned this uncertainty into a new business model, using mathematical algoritms to try to calculate the best chance for customers to secure the cheapest deal.

“We want (travelers) to get to the best decision for their needs as easily as possible,” says Robert Birge, Kayak’s chief marketing officer, to USA Today.

Also expanding into the travel business are major search companies as Google, with its Google Travel service, and Microsoft’s competitor Bing. Those two, scanning multiple airlines and travel agencies for the best prices, come on top of already existing search engines with extensive capabilities of comparing prices, such as Skyscanner and Momondo.

The Bing Travel Price Predictor advises travelers whether fares are rising, holding steady or dropping, and whether to “buy” or “wait,” the USA Today reports.

“Since Bing doesn’t actually sell travel, our only focus is to connect you with helpful information that can keep you coming back,” spokesperson Kari Dilloo says to the paper.

 

For travelers, all this constitute a veritable jungle of options — but also a good possibility to secure cheap tickets. However, the ongoing airline sale might later on turn out not to have been the bargain deal of the year, after all. But then, for some, it will be too late.

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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.