I was booking plan tickets for an upcoming trip when I discovered this hack. If you book on American Airlines’ website, it gives you the option to hold your tickets at the current price for 24 hours. Always use this option. Wait until the next day, and input your travel itinerary again. Check the price. If it is cheaper, cancel your current hold and book again for the cheaper price. Then repeat this process the next day. If the fare goes up, buy at the previous day’s price.
There is virtually no cost to doing this–the hold option is free, so the only cost is time it takes to reenter a flight itinerary–and has the potential to save you a lot of money. For example, my fare was $641 two days ago. Yesterday, it was $515. Today, it is up to $680. Consequently, I bought my tickets for yesterday’s price and saved $126. Not bad for five minutes’ effort.
(The extreme price fluctuations make no sense to me either, but that is a different discussion.)
Note that this only works if you book through aa.com. Travel aggregation websites like Kayak and Orbitz do not allow holds. Same goes for other airlines as far to my knowledge. However, if you are not committed to flying with American but American is still the cheapest option, you should still hold the tickets for 24 hours. Then, on the next day, you can rerun your search on Kayak or Orbitz and see if any of the other fares beat the one you have on hold. If so, buy from the competitor–but note that you won’t be able to hold the competitor’s price and repeat the process on the next day.