Please sign in to post.

When to purchase airline tickets

My sister and I plan to travel to France next Spring 2013 - mid to late May. When would be the best time to find good rates and book the flights?

Posted by
23238 posts

When they are the cheapest. Of course, that is the problem, isn't? No one know and at best can only guess. You might look at prices today to get a feel for high prices. And then set a price your are comfortable with and buy it if it hits that point. You can see what some of the tracking sites show for that route, comparefare, etc. The probability of buying the cheapest ticket is very low but you may come close. I have never found the fare alert to work very well. I get the alert at 3 AM and it is sold by 6 AM. Do not focus extensively on the cheapest fare. Will incur a lot of brain damage. It is big part of your travel expense but it far earlier to save money elsewhere in your travel budget. People will always brag about their $500 ticket but that was flying off season ten years ago with five legs. So take claims of super low tickets with a certain caution and not as a goal.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks - that sounds just right and I will follow your advice! My first day on his site - I lIke it already!

Posted by
3551 posts

I do the "fare circus" every yr to Europe and I find best to use Kayak.com and farecompare.com to get idea of fares to track for about a month for France generally the beat fares are to Geneva over Paris so far so ck both.
Then when you see a fare you are comfortable w/ buy it nd do not look back. It looks like fuel surcharges should be going down soon so start your research about 6 months bef your travel dates. All the best it can be a chore hopefully you can also travel on cheaper days like tuesday or at least have some flexibliity. gd luck.

Posted by
11294 posts

Frank and JS are quite right. But JS's tip about Geneva vs. Paris is only helpful if your destination is near Geneva. It's not a saving to go to one place, then spend time and money getting to another. JS is quite right about looking into the option of flying into or out of a city other than Paris, either within France or in neighboring countries. You can do open-jaws (multi-city), into once city and out of another. Depending on your itinerary, this doesn't necessarily cost more. But even if it does, the time and money savings are worth it.

Posted by
224 posts

I did open jaws flights last June and it was actually a little cheaper than a single city roundtrip. I did not find that to be true years ago. I also don't see the huge off-season discounts I remembered way back when. You young whipper snappers should know that it was possible to get a January or February flight to Europe in the 90s for way less than half of the peak season rate. Oh, the good ole days of the 90s!

Posted by
381 posts

we just made our third trip and each time booked through Kayak.com. If you know the exact dates of the trip you can do great on kayak. Just be patient. We also travel non stop. If you want a layover it is cheaper. We traveled in May and knew the exact dates of our trip last fall. We flew in to Milan and out of Venice. My wife was on kayak every night checking the fares. The fares were listed at over $1000 round trip until one day in early December they fell to $800 and we bought. They only stayed there for two days so we were lucky. The year before the same thing happened when we booked flights to Paris. I would recommend that you get familiar with the fares so you know what is a good price. Check Kayak every night. Once you get the price you are happy with book it. Get a low price but once you are happy it is a good price book it so you don't lose it.

Posted by
2123 posts

Stephanie, You need to purchase when you're comfortable with the route, price, seats available, etc. My advice is that once you do it, don't keep checking to see if you made the right decision. I started tracking fares in Nov 2011 for my trip in Sep 2012. I bought the tickets on April 1 for what seemed like a good price ($200 cheaper than the highest point in Feb 2012). Two days later, the price fell by $100. I just checked today and the price is $530 less than what I paid, same days, same flights. I'm not happy.

Posted by
129 posts

Stephanie -
While planning a trip to Ireland last year, we checked regular booking sites like kayak and expedia as well as Aer Lingus. We thought Aer Lingus would offer us the cheapest flight, but we actually found one on US Airways that was the best deal. (Ironically, a friend visiting Ireland this August is taking the very same flight, as are friends who are visiting Ireland in September.) We booked maybe four or five months in advance? I saw them a little lower a month or two later, but only about $40 lower. Then they went higher than our purchase price. Anyway, I was reading a travel blog and the blogger said the best open jaw tickets he finds for his family to other destinations in Europe are often on Iceland Air and Aer Lingus, as long as you don't mind a layover in Dublin or Reykjavik. And he often finds them about eight months out. I plan to stalk those two airlines (as well as the regulars) to start getting an idea of cost of flights for our trip to Germany and BeNeLux in fall 2013 so that we know a "good" fare and can jump on it as early as needed.

Posted by
7 posts

I just want to say that this was my first question and it was my first day on the site - and I am most pleased. Thank you, everyone for your very quick and wise advice! I'm hooked and excited about the planning for this trip!

Posted by
177 posts

best advise i ever got: Book your airline ticket 8-12 weeks before your trip. Unless you find something way cheaper than normal before that. For me in LA regular tickets to CDG from LAX round trip is about $850, low season about $750 and high season is about $1100. So just pay attention to your pricing from MSP. Also always book your airfare tickets around Tuesday after 12pm EST to midnight Wednesday.