Airline tickets

If you're traveling in mid August, what's the latest you should wait to buy your airline tickets?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1358 posts

hi, depends on how rich you are. When i went back to London/Amsterdam last late October, i did some experimenting and watched the flight costs from March until July. I ended up paying about 200 buck more since i waited. it appears that in my case, prices went up 3 months out. i dont know if thats true for all, but for now and for me, im using that as my Rule of Thumb (ROT) until i see otherwise. Im planning a trip for this Sept and im booking my flights NOW. I know that some people will waitnsee to get less expensive flights, but i plan my trips to do and see things not to do and see if i can get there. I will also be buying all of my train tickets ASAP too along with some of my hotels are already paid for. Its the way i do thiings. Maybe once i see what i want to see and go back over my tracks, i will do the fly by the seat of my pants and not make reservations for anything. but until then, i have plans so thats the way i do it. by the way, my Round Trip (R/T) air fair is running about 1200 USD as of this date. Its 200 more than last year. taht 1200 is direct too. there are less expensive flights but with more stops. I found out i dont like more layovers, since it took more time. Time=$$$ or in this case Time waiting = not doing/seeing things except for the inside of airports. happy trails.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7684 posts

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. What you should do is sign up with fare alerts from places like Kayak and various airlines. Then start watching how the fares are running. By knowing how much they are now, you will be able to recognize a good deal if you come across one. You have to be ready to jump on a good price when you see one, because they often don't last very long.

Posted by Tom
Suffolk, UK (formerly St. Louis, MO, USA)
166 posts

If you can figure out the airline ticket pricing scheme, you have a potential doctoral thesis. The GENERAL (caps for emphasis) rule of thumb most folks I know use is to buy (if you can) prior to 21 days before travel, and absolutely no later than 14 days before travel. Airlines will play reindeer games with prices before 21 days. After that, prices will climb. Get inside 14 days, and the airlines assume you are a business traveler and will charge you "accordingly". Best bet is to start watching fares now so that you know what they are. If you happen to catch an unannounced sale, be ready to jump on it as they dont last long.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

"Best bet is to start watching fares now so that you know what they are. If you happen to catch an unannounced sale, be ready to jump on it as they dont last long." Exactly right. So start looking right now, and check frequently. Figure out what your route is (talk with your travel partners so you don't have to check with them before booking). Have your credit card and passport info handy when you are looking, so you can book IMMEDIATELY. There are stories on this Helpline of people who had to check with a travel partner or who left their credit card at home, and by the time they looked again a few hours later, the fare they wanted was gone. If that happens, don't despair; I've had fares disappear and then reappear. The reason for having the passport handy while looking? You must book the ticket in the EXACT same name as on your passport.

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

The airlines (all of them) have computer models updated by the nano second showing who/what/when/why and how much to charge for any flight based on current, historical and projected volumes. This is like betting against a Vegas casino. Yes, you may get lucky but with plane loads (also factored in by that evil computer program) being what they are I'd buy those tickets today. Do you really what to get the center seat on a 12 hour flight?

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

A year ago we traveled to England in September. We were not planning to go the following year but in November a sale popped up on the screen - it was for a United flight to England and very cheap! We purchased tickets immediately and went again in May, but I had looked about 1 hour after I purchased the tickets, the sale was no longer there. So, I do know from personal experience that you have to jump on these sales when you see them.