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Best time to buy for the spring?

Hi all- I am researching a few things for an international trip this spring (May 2016 to London, but may take a side trip elsewhere).

-First- does anyone know the best flight tool to use for international flights? Or should I just go through the airline?
-Second- Best time to buy? How many months in advance?
-Third- but least important- the last time I flew to London (a trip I didn't book, hence all my questions), I flew premium economy on BA direct from Austin to London, so I became a little spoiled and if I can manage to do that again, that would be preferable. Has anyone booked a coach seat and then upgraded? How did that go? Is there ever a cheap time to upgrade?

THANK YOU!

Posted by
145 posts

Actually- I just finished reading another thread, which answered some of these questions.
So my biggest questions lie around flying BA- flights right now are $1400+ which is too much- is there a chance they will decrease again? What is the longest I should wait? That is up by about $200-300 from one month ago.

Also, the premium economy, I still want that ;)

Posted by
544 posts

Hi Ashley,

These are great questions.

There are many tools to compare flights for comparing international flights. Kayak, Google Flights and SkyScanner to name a few. I usually book through the airline at that point. The only exception is if I find a better option on a travel website that isn't offered through the airline directly. I have bought tickets for a combination of Delta, Adria and Croatian Airlines flights this way using Orbitz that wasn't available through Delta's website.

If you're planning to take a side trip elsewhere, make sure to check out booking an open-jaw flight, so you don't have to make your way back to London. This is my favorite insider tip on maximizing the value of your roundtrip ticket. For example, last October I spent most of my trip in London, but actually flew into Amsterdam and home from Paris.

I've seen advertisements to upgrade to BA World Traveller Plus at the airport for around $300, but the issue with that for me is that window and aisle seats in World Traveller Plus are typically all reserved well in advance these days. At check in, it's usually just middle seats left, at least for my Seattle-London flight. For me, it's more important to pay for the seat reservation ahead in either World Traveller or World Traveller Plus and get an aisle or ideally an exit row. At 14 days before departure it is possible to reserve exit row seating on BA. If you already purchased a seat, you only pay the difference to change to the exit row.

As far as when to buy, that's a hotly debated topic! Advice from my personal experience is ASAP, however, again lots of opinions on this point.

Good luck, and prepare for lots of responses to your questions!
Nordheim

Posted by
24 posts

I just booked a multi-city flight about a month ago (flying in to London, out of Paris). I figured which major carrier was the cheapest flying out of my city and then checked the fares daily (for us it was Delta). One day, the airfare had dropped significantly....$250. Since there are 4 of us traveling, that's $1000 savings. I only hesitated for a moment and we made the reservations. The fare went back to where it had been the next day, and has not changed. Not sure what happened, but I'm glad I checked and didn't too greedy and wait one more day. I had also determined through trial and error, that flying out on Wednesday, and home on Saturday seemed to be the cheapest, so play around with your departures and return days.

I guess my point is, figure out what stuff costs, then be prepared to 'jump' when the price is right. I'm going to continue to watch airfare just as a point of comparison, but I'm am very happy with our airfare. We booked this flight about 4-1/2 months prior to departure.

Posted by
6543 posts

When I'm looking for a flight, I go to matrix.itasoftware.com. I'll watch them for a month or two--looking for a baseline price to expect. Then I'll watch for sudden drops in airfares. I also read online and in big city newspapers for travel sales. ClarkHoward.com is another place to spot bargains.

Right now, the best priced flights to Europe are Norwegian Air Shuttle and Wow Airlines out of Iceland. Unfortunately they're not flying into Texas. But you could possibly save by flying on budget Allegiant Airlines into Orlando where Norwegian Air Shuttle flies--to London for $300-$350 and return flights from $400-$450 on Tuesdays and Saturdays only.
For May flights, I'd be looking to buy in February or the first half of March.
Just about all the airlines have an Economy Plus option that gives more kneeroom. On budget Norwegian Air Shuttle, you can either picnic or buy your meal online--or purchase cold sandwiches on board.

Posted by
24 posts

Check Delta out of Dallas. There was a round trip airfare for under $800 (economy fare) including our connection from Omaha (Omaha, Dallas, London). So maybe there is a leg to Austin for prices in the same ballpark. They have nice business class upgrades for $99/seat.

Posted by
1217 posts

But you could possibly save by flying on budget Allegiant Airlines into Orlando where Norwegian Air Shuttle flies--to London for $300-$350 and return flights from $400-$450 on Tuesdays and Saturdays only.

I would be careful with this one. Both are budget carriers with a fairly limited number of planes and it's not uncommon to see 1-3 day delays on either carrier if the plane originally scheduled for that route has a mechanical issue.

Southwest is both more reliable and higher volume intra-Texas and I'd feel okay booking an early morning flight into Houston or Dallas with them for an overseas departure after 5:00pm (allowing for generous transfer time from Hobby to IAH or Love to DFW) if a deal pops up at the more international airports there.

If you're going to open jaw it, note that, say arriving in London and going home from Paris will often be $75-$125 cheaper than arriving in Paris and going home from London because it lets you cut out what can be a steep London airports departure tax for long haul flights.

Posted by
145 posts

These are some fantastic suggestions I haven't heard before- thanks to each of you. I am going to look into each option.

Posted by
1737 posts

When I have tracked flights I have found them to just go up and up. When I see a price I'm happy with I buy it. The likelyhood of them dropping much in price is unlikely. If you wait and it doesn't happen then you will be paying more. Only once did I see my flight go down in price and I've tracked many over many, many months. I'm tracking already for a flight in 2017. When it is low I'll know it.

Posted by
5013 posts

Ashley if there was one answer for the Second question, everyone would do it. The airlines don't change prices seasonally or predictably anymore. They do it continuously based on complicate computer algorithms and its a constant game rigged against you. So just pick a price point that's acceptable, and don't look back.