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Airline Tickets

Questions from a newbie -

How far in advance do you suggest purchasing your airline tickets? I will be traveling to Paris from Austin, TX in May, 2015.

Also, can anyone recommend what type of travel insurance to get? Just don't want to lose tour and flight cost if something happens.

Thanks!

Posted by
2092 posts

Hi Kathy, Well we can't really compare our flights and airfare because we fly out of a tiny airport (2 departure gates, 1 arrival gate!) but I am seriously looking at airfare into Athens and out of Venice right now and hoping to purchase within the week or so. I use itasoftware.com to find what flight connections and airfare I want and then go directly to the airline site. Because we have such a small airport, for us the airlines are in control and airfare only goes up.
We also will be leaving in May, returning in June.

Posted by
353 posts

Hi Kathy,

I'd start looking at flights now and then continue to check once a week or so to see how much the prices fluctuate, purchasing no later than 2-3 months ahead. If you see a good fare within the next few months, then buy it. For travel insurance, check out Travel Guard - www.travelguard.com. You can check out their coverage to see if it's what you are looking for.

Posted by
3614 posts

We go to squaremouth.com for insurance. They list dozens of companies with features, prices, and ratings; so it's easy to compare. It's also easy to get to a live person with any questions you may have. I've used them twice, and I felt like I got straight answers. E.g., "there's no difference between this policy for $54 and that policy for $300."

Posted by
23411 posts

The question of travel insurance can get complicated depending on what you NEED. And reading the fine print on any policy is critical. You need to define what the range of "something happens" means for you. Do you need medical insurance, evacuation insurance, total trip cancellations for any reason (very expensive), etc. Premiums will run in the range of 5% of your total trip costs or at least the costs you are insuring. And, generally, you can only insure, actual, potential out-of-pocket loses.

Posted by
2081 posts

Kathy,

I buy my airline tickets as soon as i have my lodging and where I'm going figured out. I will in the mean time monitor flights and cost daily to get an idea on how much the flights fluctuate daily. Sometimes i see the prices +/- by 100 bucks or so depending on the day of the week. Of course the closer it gets to departure (approx 1 or 2 weeks out) prices jump a lot. More than i want to spend for just doing the "wait n see".

as far as insurance goes, i havent bought any for any of my trips since I've been traveling for 3 years now. I will be looking into the various forms for next year, but my gut feeling is that i will skip all of them.

I may pickup medical evac if i do a lot of horseback riding next year, but at this time, I'm not sure how often i will be riding.

happy trails.

Posted by
5697 posts

Also on travel insurance, watch out for deadlines on purchasing if you have anyone with pre-existing conditions -- often you need to buy the insurance within days of making deposits/buying airline tickets to have trip cancellation clauses cover you. (Just like you can't buy a fire insurance policy while a wildfire is only feet away from your house.)
As noted before, READ the policy to see what it covers and what is excluded.

Posted by
1103 posts

I usually buy airline tickets around five months before the trip. I would start checking fares now. We have never purchased travel insurance. The only tour we took was the Rick Steves Paris City Tour in May 2012. We felt that the refund policies were liberal enough so that we did not need extra insurance. If I were to buy insurance, it would probably be for medical evacuation, since the cost of that could be devastating.

Posted by
14153 posts

I agree with tracking the airfare for a month or so since you can start now. I would plan to purchase if you see a drop one day in price as it will go quickly. Figure out if there are sometimes cheaper days for flying from Austin to Paris and take a look at which airlines will service you best. The fewer connections the better off you will often be.

I fly from the same airport as Darcy (and yes, I flew over her house yesterday when I landed but she did not wave!) so absolutely NO deals, but I did find that last year when I tried to book too far in advance (Dec for Aug. travel) the fares were thousands of dollars more (on the Delta website), then about 6 months out the fares dropped for my arrival and departure destinations and were pretty consistent after that.

Many people on here recommend you DO NOT go back and track the fares after you purchase...it may depress you!

Posted by
8201 posts

Airfares to Europe are essentially being controlled by four airline partnerships, and they're very good on controlling supply and thus prices.

Right now, posted prices for Europe are at an all time high, even for Winter fares. For May, 2015 trips, I'd be looking to purchase a ticket in January or February. You don't have anything to lose by waiting until later.
I'm looking for demand to be down a little in 2015, especially if the wavering stock market has anything to do with consumer spending.

I'd be watching closely for sales to pop up--even if just a one day sale. We saved 30% earlier this year on such a sale going to Budapest and home from Prague.
When airfares to Europe get extremely high, we either visit one of the great Canadian provinces or we go to Hawaii. And for the difference in price, we'll take a cruise.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Kathy, I'm also tracking fares for next May and right now they are about $300 more than what I'm hoping to pay... Will wait until Jan or Feb to buy. I always use Travel Guard insurance. Had to cancel a trip in 2012 and they reimbursed me for everything I asked.

Posted by
7209 posts

We've already purchased our international flight tickets for June 2015...about 2 months ago actually. Occasionally I check to see what the fare has done, and it has only gone up since our purchase. I used to track fares incessantly and usually would find a bargain and jump on it. Starting last year I looked incessantly and never saw ANY sales for our destinations at all. With all of the billions of dollars of revenue being generated by the new "stupid" fees airlines really don't have a need for sales anymore.

Posted by
559 posts

Check flights out of Houston and consider driving there to depart for Europe. I live in New Orleans and fly United and because Houston is one of their hubs most of our international flights go through there. If you do this go to globalairportparking.com and find a participating hotel near the airport where you can park. The cars are secure and the cost is only $4-6 per day as a rule, AND you get to use the hotel airport shuttle for free. On United there are a number of flights from Houston to Newark to Paris, and also Houston to Dulles to Paris and sometimes you can get good fares. They also have Economy Plus seating which for the overseas portion of the flights is about $120 each way if you need extra legroom.

Posted by
23411 posts

I'm looking for demand to be down a little in 2015......., You have to be very careful of these types of statements because it is only blue smoke and opinion. Unless someone is willing to put a couple hundred dollars on the table in support of the statement you should ignore it. People who tell you to wait because it will be cheaper have no dog in the fight. So if you lose, it is means nothing to them.

There is another way to look at it. While the focus is on airline fares, at lot of brain damage is done trying to save a couple hundred dollars when it is far easier to saving that two hundred with a better selection of hotels, meals, and ground transportation. Those areas really pay off with good research. Watch the fares for a while and buy when you are comfortable with the price (don't be unrealistic). It is like buying stock. You have to be very lucky to buy at the bottom.

Posted by
333 posts

Personally, I've already bought my Europe tickets for May of next year. Airlines work similar to hotels and as the demand increases, you'll pay more for less choices (unless you luck into something). When I went to Hawaii in 2011, I found a great airfare and snapped it up ASAP. Three days later that fare was no longer available, (it nearly doubled) and I've not seen a flight to Hawaii that low since then. For my trip to Europe in July 2012, made the mistake of waiting, hoping prices might go down (since I had plenty of time- started planning in Oct 2011) and they went up by over $500 dollars a ticket just before Christmas- and stayed there. I've been tracking Europe fares for the last 6 months this year and they haven't fluctuated more than forty bucks in all that time. I decided to err on the side of caution and buy my flight while I still had choices of times, layovers, layover cities, etc. The price for my ticket is cheaper than what I paid in 2012- by $300. However, ticket prices for after mid May are much higher- after school gets out and kids start travelling.

So my two cents are- if ya know when and where you want to go, and you have the money- why wait? Prices might go down, but they're much more likely to go up!

Posted by
333 posts

And if you don't already know- if you can, buy your tickets to fly out and back on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Usually flights will be significantly cheaper if you fly on a weekday and not over a weekend- Fri-Sun (sometimes Monday). If you have more than one airport within a reasonable distance, check flight prices at each, and even check mixing up the arrival/departure. Sometimes that can significantly affect prices. The bigger airports don't necessarily have the lowest prices.