how far in advance to book a flight?

it has been a VERY long time since an overseas trip, so please remind us how many months out it is best to book a flight to italy? we want to go in mid may and will probably prefer arriving in rome but departing from naples. any tricks or tips for doing that? we have a tight budget.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2735 posts

An exhaustive industry study was done last year, and it was decided that 60 days out is the best time to purchase a ticket. Keep watch on the internet for prices so you'll be educated if an extra good fare pops up suddenly. Unfortunately, airfares are at an all time high, especially for Summer travel. You're smart going before Summer. Flying Corpus thru Houston to Europe usually requires transfers at London, Amsterdam or Paris. From Amsterdam, you can get to Florence, Milan-Linate, Rome-Fiumicino, Venice-Marco Polo, Milan-Malpensa, Venice-Treviso and Verona. You could also get into the American Airlines system through Dallas Fort Worth. I didn't look up their travel combos into Western Europe and Italy. Naples is about 150 miles south of Rome, and is serviced by "fast" trains. You'd do better to fly out of Rome. You'll need to decide what city you're going to fly into. The most popular Italian destinations are Venice, Florence and Rome. You could also do Florence, Rome and Naples/Amalfi Coast. Read a lot on this website, and enjoy planning your trip.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
862 posts

Plan on a round trip to/from Rome (FCO) via whatever route works for you. American Airlines hub is Dallas (DFW), Delta is Atlanta (ATL). I forget which hub is serviced by Miami(MIA) or Orlando (MCO). Thing here is this is a big deal for your right? Yes you can probably save money buying within 60 days but other factors intrude. B&B reservations, reserved tickets to say the Uffizi in Florence, rail tickets yaha yaha. Do train to/from Naples. We buy our tickets usually 6 months out AFTER lining up B&B's etc.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6098 posts

I would love to see that " exhaustive travel study" and see what it covered. domestic and foreign travel mixed together? Mdid they separate out long-haul flights from the West coast to Europe? So much of what I have read from the "travel industry" is New York based, and does not apply to the western US. I completely agree with Marie that you can save more by advance planning, careful ion of lodging, and advance purchase of train tickets, than the $100 or so you might save by playing the waiting game, especially at high season (summer). On our last family trip, I saved $500 on a single purchase of train tickets. I would not have been able to buy them in advance like that had I not already bought our flight tickets so we knew our firm dates of travel. The additional savings from careful booking of lodging ( some with huge discounts for advance prepaid booking) brought the total to well over $1000 for the trip. And I've never seen the tickets for our particular flight drop, 2 months out, from the price I paid for them 6 to 10 months out.

Posted by Mike
189 posts

I saw the report of that study, and it was helpful. I believe they also found that Tuesday midday was the best time to buy. Car rental rates vary even more than airline ticket prices, and the high and low swings are greater. This fall I tracked the same rental on Avis over a period of 3 months. The low point was about 30 days before the trip with a savings of about 12%. Of course if their bookings were running strong, it might well have been 12% higher.

Posted by ekc
Portland, OR
282 posts

I agree with your plan to fly into Rome and depart from Naples. True that there are good train connections between Rome and Naples, but unless you have an afternoon flight, flying out of Rome means you need to spend the night before your flight in Rome, so you lose a day from your stay on the coast. I have been tracking flights from Portland to/from both Rome and Naples for my June trip (will be purchasing tickets in January) and it is no cheaper to fly in or out of Rome than Naples.

Posted by paula
corpus christi, usa
11 posts

thank you all so much! what a wonderful group of seasoned travelers so willing to share! we so appreciate it. we have family in the u.s. that have a home in calabria so we also hope to include that little detour from naples...hence the return flight out of naples. we also have not seen a drastic change in price per that arrangement. it will be new york to rome and possibly naples directly back to houston (10 grueling hours!) on the same carrier. which begs my next question. is it true that one must get to salerno to catch a train to calabria. or i guess we could check out of our hotel in sorrento and truck back to naples to catch a train south. nothing direct from sorrento, correct?

Posted by ekc
Portland, OR
282 posts

You are right Paula. You will have to go to either Naples or Salerno to catch the train to Calabria. Depending on the time of year you will be traveling, ferry from Sorrento to Salerno might be an option - and it is a beautiful way to see the coast!

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1671 posts

Agree with previous poster to take ferry back but check the prices versus train from Sorrento to Naples. Since you said you are on tight budget, train I seem to remember is only about 5 euro one way and takes about an hour

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6472 posts

Here's a WSJ article that deals specifically with when to purchase international flights: Finding the Best Fares to Europe The approach I'm taking is to monitor the seats on the flights that I'm considering. (You can do that from most airlines' websites.) Until the plane starts to fill up, there's no reason to buy.