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another air fare question

Has anyone found that booking asap, even 11 months before trip was the best? Some say 4 months before yet others say you may get a sale at that time but never as low as the start. I guess we all wish we knew the trick

Posted by
265 posts

I booked a trip from Europe to US (CPH-SFO) for Summer 2010 about 10 months in advance because I found cheap tickets. I have checked back regularly to see if I made a good decision (I don't know why, it's impossible to change the tickets after all), but it seems I did. Since I bought, the price seems just to increase.

Posted by
18936 posts

One of my professors in business school used to talk about "optimizing" vs "satisficing" in business decisions. Optimizing is finding the best price; satisficing is getting a price that is satisfactory to you. If you try to optimize your ticket price, half the time you will be wrong. Just set a price you can live with. If you find it, good. I you find something better, great. Never look back.

Posted by
689 posts

Unfortunately there's no best time or single trick. I have indeed found my very best fares to Europe--twice--at exactly 11 months in advance (both times on US Air). And both times the fare disappeared right after we bought the seats--I think they offered 2 seats at that price and that was it. I think most of us just buy when we feel like the fare is decent enough. Even if you end up paying a little more sometimes it's worth it to just buy then not worry about it anymore.

Posted by
9197 posts

Hi Jo, I recommend reading the thread under Transportation titled "Advice for those waiting to book summer fares..." Helpful info there.

We're going to Paris in June and I waited until last week to get tickets and I regret it. I waited b/c it was promised that sales would make it worthwhile. I ended up paying $300 more per ticket than I would have had I bought months ago. I'll never wait again, I'll go back to buying as far in advance as possible.

Posted by
86 posts

jo,
i began to look for cheap airfares to paris for this june (2010) last june (2009). i also looked at the fares for 2009 and kept records.
in august i found a round trip fare to brussells (not paris) for $839 from orlando.
i was facing the decison that you now frame. at that point, i had not seen anything cheaper for 2010 and really nothing cheaper in 2010 except the last minute (2 weeks or less)savers.

we chose to book ahead 9 months because a. it was 3 hundred less than i had budgeted and
b. it allowed us to lock in and then plan.
for us, the security was worth whatever more we might choose to gamble on saving.

Posted by
247 posts

It looks like I have my work cut out for me. Thank you everyone for all the help....this site is great.

Posted by
873 posts

We booked our tickets for October 2010 back in February or early March, because we found what I think was a great fare. We were looking to fly to London and from Amsterdam, and most tickets were over $800. Then I found RT fare to Amsterdam for under $650 and jumped on it. Even with the added budget flight to London, it turned out to be $150-200 cheaper.

I am fully prepared to kick myself in the unlikely event that fares drop below $650, but it's probably not going to happen.

From everything I've seen on these boards, as soon as you find a fare that seems good enough, jump on it, no matter how far in advance it is. With the financial turmoil in the airline industry (which this volcanic mess is NOT helping), I don't think prices are likely to fall very much...

Posted by
408 posts

just caught a news item on YAPTA -- says it can help get a refund if the price drops after you buy your ticket.

http://www.yapta.com/airline-refunds/

The tiers of price drops by airline is an interesting competitive feature -- with Alaska and JetBlue showing as ANY price drop refunded.

Has anyone tried this?

Posted by
121 posts

Can't say I've ever booked anything that way in advanced but the main thing is to watch the fares and when something seems like a bargain, grab it. Trying to obsess over getting the lowest price possible is not a good idea.

Some web sites allow you to set up alerts for prices and they will email you. That can help to provide you some info. The good prices can vanish quickly. Recently US Airways had some nice deals (non-Europe) from Phoenix such as $300 RT to Hawaii and about $200 RT to Vancouver but if you wait about it too long, they disappear, especially for the prime dates.

I saw one place suggesting 8-12 weeks in advance is best but I think if you see a bargain you just grab it regardless of time.

Posted by
9197 posts

I was waiting until 2 mos before out trip per advice I got from a regular on this Helpline, not because I was hoping for a "bargain" but just hoping for what I thought was "reasonable". When I first looked 6 mos or so ago, it was over $1350 pp. I thought that was too expensive. Now I know that was a bargain compared to what I, and others I know of, have ended up paying.

If you don't care what airline you fly, what seats you get, don't care if you can't sit with your travel partner or how many stops it makes, then you may find a "deal". Your chances also depend on where you're flying from...the West coast is more difficult than the East coast.

Posted by
2679 posts

Airlines generally will only refund the "savings" minus the change fee on thier international fares. So if you fee is $250 you only get a refund IF the change is greater thent he $250.

While I do fly on Frequent Flyer tickets I think it's not a great comparison to post that as "proof" that there are cheap fares out there. Hopefully when Steve says he "bought" he is referring to the airlines fees and taxes. As a word of caution... airline miles sold are subject to "cancellation" and they do watch! There have been several posters on Flyertalk over the years upset because thier "FF' ticket they bought from someone was just cancelled by the airline. (Same deal on "buddy passes" from airline employees. Gifts fine, resale, not so good!)

Posted by
881 posts

Yapta did a study a while back that showed once you looked at an airfare, there was an 87% chance the price would increase from the original one you aw. So 13% of going down - not great odds imho. The best answer to "What's the best price?" is usually, "The one you see right now."

Research, keep your eyes open, and if you see a price you like, pounce!

Posted by
881 posts

PS - rich's advice is really good to - it's worth the (potential) couple hundred extra bucks to be able to get your trip all planned out. So much less stress! Great point.

Posted by
2679 posts

This is going to sound "cruel" and I don't mean it too...

But if you are watchign for a sale this summer, I am beginning to think that the next few weeks may be a good time to expect one.

Sadly, what is happening with the "ash cloud" will scare some folks off of traveling to Europe this summer. If the airlines see a drop in booking they may decide it's time to "panic" and drop rates. Airlines tend to discount after "disaster" (Anyone else remember the GREAT rates after 9/11?) It's not a nice fact and no gurantee this will happen, but I would watch closely!

Posted by
873 posts

Does that mean that airline tickets will soon include a "volcano charge" along with the 9/11 charge? Heh.

Posted by
2679 posts

Only if the TSA can figure out a way to "protect" us from the Volcano :) (And don't put it past them to try to find a way to tax us)

Posted by
713 posts

I suspect the typical passenger load factors on flights in and out of Europe, after flights resume from this volcano ash hiatus, will be at or over 100%, and there will be few bargains to be had. Nobody would be happier than I, if my suspicions turn out to be wrong, and people are snapping up bargain-basement airfares all summer long.

I just have to say, I'm cracking up over the "be flexible, subscribe to email alerts" advice that seems to be churned out mechanically on this forum.

Nothing wrong with signing up for air fare alerts; I have too. More for fun than for practical trip planning, however. Just because there is ONE low price quoted in an email alert doesn't mean that price is actually available when one goes to book the flight, and of course one must remember that the touted "price" probably doesn't include a few hundred bucks more in "fees" and "taxes." Unless you're sitting at your computer and available to respond the second one of those "alerts" hits your inbox, you'll probably find the teaser fare already sold out.

As to flexibility? It's an elastic term. Pun intended. There's no one size fits all standard as to what's an appropriate amount of "flexibility" in booking travel and accommodations.

For instance, someone with lots of travel experience who's taking a three-week trip, may deal quite well with taking 36 to 48 hours hopping a bunch of connecting flights, to get from the US Midwest to, say, Munich, in order to save several hundred dollars on airfares. Someone else, who only has enough vacation time for a 10 day trip or who doesn't travel often, would be nuts to embark on the same itinerary when for a few hundred bucks more he/she could fly directly, nonstop or one-stop, to their desired destination.

Just sayin'.

Posted by
1064 posts

Suz has nailed the problem many of us face in buying airline tickets. We have to balance the price of the ticket against time available for a trip. That is doubly hard for me because I have to plan vacations around work schedules for my wife and myself. I refuse to overpay for a ticket, but I do want to spend my vacation in-country rather than enroute. If the right balance is not there, we do not go. I also try to balance the savings through consolidators against frequent flyer miles with the airline I normally fly. Usually, for our available dates, there is not much difference in cost, and sometimes none, so the frequent flyer miles give my regular airline an advantage. I keep following the consolidators but so far they have not offered the better deal for me. Perhaps when I retire, but not now.