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Airfare price rises

Even though I am not going to Europe until September, I am contemplating the time to buy tickets. Is it generally the case that many airlines raise prices on January 1st? I'm using Delta and would buy now if I thought their prices will rise in the new year. Perhaps there is no way to tell when the costs go up?

Posted by
6868 posts

Airfare is set dynamically via computer algorithms taking into account all sorts of variables, so there is no "set" time when fares change. They change all the time. I don't think there are any benefits to buying this early since demand that far in advance is too hard (for airlines) to predict, and the itinerary is bound to change multiple times as well the closer it gets to the trip.

Posted by
8601 posts

Oil prices have gone up so the airlines have that to deal with. I saw some airline spokesman ( do not recall who) being interviewed recently, saying that future bookings had dropped off 'significantly' as what omicron means is being sorted out.

So there are pressures for increases ( increased oil cost) and dropping demand to provide an incentive to lower prices to fill the planes.Crew availability is another factor.

Perhaps there is no way to tell when the costs ( i.e., airfares) go up?

As a true/false statement, 'true' will be the correct answer.

If the prices now are 'acceptable' and the flight selection is good, I would buy, but its your $$, so .........
Good luck and happy hunting

Posted by
3653 posts

I think prices often dip around the holidays and into the first week of January, but it's not going to be the same on every routing. I have been tracking a premium economy fare to Spain, starting in September the fares have been:

1254
1154
1355
1699
1284
2039
4079
5983
4000
1960

So hard to predict from week to week much of anything. There was a time business class was $2100 on this itinerary, should have bought it.

Posted by
8601 posts

There was a time business class was $2100 on this itinerary, should have bought it.

OUCH, that hurts.

But an example of 'when the price fits, grab it'. Also recall someone once talking about birds in bushes...

Posted by
13045 posts

It totally depend on the airline, the route, and other factors.

British Airways have consistently shown great prices for round trips from Seattle for the 4 months or so I have been watching them (for other people; we already got our tickets for September with BA points).

I just picked a random European destination (Zurich) and dates (2 week trip in mid-September) and found the following:

Regular Economy—-didn’t check.
Premium Economy, SEA to ZRH and back, $1437
Business Class, same route, $3367
Hybrid trip (Business Class on the eastbound overnight trip TO Europe, Premium Econ on the return, all-daytime flight, $2552.

These are very close to what I saw as a “Black Friday” deal 2 weeks ago. Also similar to what a friend of mine got for the “hybrid” trip to Italy from SEA 4 months ago.

These are nearly “historic” lows for BA over the past 10-15 years, in my experience. The last time I actually bought a BA ticket (rather than using miles) was in 2005 and it was $1400 per person for summer travel in regular Economy at that time. Now that same money will get you PE which is a whole lot nicer. When we started using Avios or miles to fly in Business Class, on BA in 2010, I check the actual price if one paid for a ticket, and it was always around $6000 for the round trip.

Will these prices go up? Who knows, but I will be they will. I am just about certain they won’t go down.

You might also check Portland as a departure point, as sometimes they are even cheaper from there. That adds an additional flight (PDX to SEA) and layover, but it may be much more convenient for you.

Posted by
267 posts

So,I found a flight to London and home from Edinburgh at a price that I thought was "ok" Bought the txs. I just got a notice from British Air that our seats were changed...it's 10 months away!🤯🤯

Posted by
140 posts

Do you know how to use Google Flights? I recommend searching for flights for your trip and setting alerts. You can set alerts with different departure airports, limit the number of stops, limit the airline alliances (if you want to fly Delta, uncheck all the alliances except SkyTeam) etc. Use the calendar function to play with your departure and arrival dates.
Even though it is early to book, you can get a sense of how high or low prices might go.
If the prices from your closest airport are consistently high, consider a positioning flight to another airport with lots of routes and lower prices.
When you see an alert for a price on Google Flights that you can live with, book it.
I've found that the sweet spot for international fares is anytime between six and two months.

Posted by
1595 posts

I too am going to Europe in September into London, out of Venice. I started tracking prices before my dates opened using hypothetical dates. When my dates opened up, I added ‘refundable’ as a variable. Delta and United had the cheapest refundable open jaw tickets. So then I added flight times and connections into the mix, checking Flight Aware for more information.

My original plan was to buy after the first of the year, thinking post-holiday flights would be cheaper. Then I saw flights on United that met all my criteria for more than $250 less than the competition and quite a bit less than the lowest price I had seen in months. So I bought the tickets. I know there is a good chance United will change something before September but I am very comfortable with the price I paid.

To answer your original question my experience says there is no good way to determine if or when flight prices will go down or up. Just keep checking multiple airlines to find the route and price you want. If you’re comfortable with both, buy.

Posted by
13045 posts

Chriss——most likely that means the type of plane has changed. Did you check? You may have ended up on a more desirable aircraft . . . Or not.

If you paid to choose your seats on the other plane, you are entitled to choose seats on the new plane at no additional cost (except on the upper deck of a 747, but I think they have phased those out.) When I booked our March 2022 flights to Italy and back 5 months ago, the plane for the return to SFO was a 777 (outbound from Seattle is a 787). The 777 (my least favorite long-haul plane) subsequently has been switched to an A380, which we really like. And I was able to choose some great seats on the upper deck.

Posted by
107 posts

This doesn’t address your original question about future fare predictions, however if you have some flexibility in your exact travel dates, I wanted to share a recent experience I had with following fare patterns and saving on Delta flights from Seattle to Paris. (Disclaimer: Travel planning is our family hobby, so this exercise was fun for me, I understand this could be onerous for some and many travelers do not have date flexibility.)

As soon as we have a trip in mind I start looking at flights. If at all possible, we like to fly direct so that narrows our choices and for the Paris trip we wanted to try hybrid ticketing of business class seating outbound and comfort/premium economy inbound. We also had a lot of flexibility in our dates so I started playing around with departure and return dates and mixing up class fares for the two direct (mostly daily) flights SEA/CDG and CDG/SEA offered by Delta/AirFrance. Just shifting our dates by one or two days within a given week changed the fare significantly. In some cases by thousands of dollars. For several weeks I tracked the fares for each day of the week during the weeks we planned to leave and return. The day of the week patterns I saw stayed consistent - some days of the week were less, other days were more. Then I kept an eye on available seats on the flights we liked. We purchased when the price was within a comfortable range and the seats we wanted were in short supply (yes, I know the equipment and seats could change). Arranging our itinerary to leave on a Monday and return on a Sunday saved us significantly. Leaving on our usually preferred Friday or Saturday would have cost way more.

We did not spend the extra fee for “refundable” tickets as our tickets are “changeable” without a fee and we know we can use the credit with Delta should we need to cancel this trip (we have already done this once without a hitch).

Posted by
13526 posts

Like said above: "an example of 'when the price fits, grab it'"

My March trip Houston to Budapest was $711 with seats, so i grabbed it. At most, if 2019 prices came back (wont happen), the fare would have been $650; and I have paid $1200 for the same flight.

Posted by
3192 posts

To answer the OP, who knows? Prices go up and down all the time and since the pandemic is still going on prices can go up or down depending on what is said on the news. It also depends on what route you are looking at, how much competition there is on the route.

I just got a notice from British Air that our seats were
changed...it's 10 months away!

That sounds very much like there has been a change in aircraft. And if the flight is 10 months away, I would not be surprised if there are more changes. In the current situation airlines might change their planning as demand goes up and down, a 777 might be replaced with an A350 or an A330 might be replaced with a 787.

Posted by
5112 posts

I bought 2 round trip tickets from Seattle to London last September for next May because I felt "the price was right." This topic inspired me to go re-price those same flights at today's prices. We are flying business class there and extended legroom economy home. Our tickets in Sept, with seat selection, came out to $2,050 for 2 people RT. Those same tickets, today, came out at $3,900 for 2 people RT on the same flights. Will they go down again in the future? Maybe.....

The advice to track the flights and then purchase when the price seems right is good. You can't be sure that the price won't go down in the future, but you also can't be sure that it won't go up. Study the routings, study alternate routings, and then purchase when the price seems reasonable in light of your research.

Posted by
21037 posts

I've never flown anything other than plain-vanilla coach, but I've read quite a few reports on this forum of incredible deals on business class tickets bought really, really early. It's not that early purchase guarantees you're getting a fabulous deal (definitely not), but it does seem that if there's a time when a really low business-class fare pops up, it's likely to be way ahead of the travel date. Of course, with COVID causing sharp spikes and drops in demand for travel right now, anything is possible.