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Best time to book Europe airfare for May 2022?

Wondering if anyone has any insight into the best time to book European travel for May 2022. Flight options seem very limited right now for a multi-city trip (staring Rome, ending Paris) and I have to wonder when more flight options will open up. Appreciate any thoughts.

Posted by
7196 posts

You should create an account and sign up for alerts from the airlines that you would be using to get there from where you live.
I have not seen any campaigns in email for Spring 2022 yet. Otherwise you just have to search every day whenever you have time to kill and be prepared to buy when you see a price to your liking. Use Google Flights to search; it will show you the prices then buy directly from the airline website.

Posted by
92 posts

I know, it's probably a guessing game for everyone at this point.

Posted by
861 posts

What do alerts do? I also will be going next May, plan on flying Delta.

Posted by
7196 posts

What do alerts do? I also will be going next May, plan on flying Delta.

The airlines are just like regular online retailers that send sales alerts to email. Not so much in regular mail.
Haven't you bought stuff online before and then get emails from the company you bought from later about something on sale?

It is no guessing game for those who travel a lot to Europe.

Posted by
41 posts

We're confirmed on BOE14 April 25 to May 8. Were hoping to fly SFO to FCO on Friday, April 22 with arrival Saturday, April 23. Required connection at CDG with 7 hour layover and 23:45 arrival! No thanks!

By chance we looked at Thursday departure and hit the jackpot! Two hour layover and 15:40 arrival. Also saved $900 multi city on fare business class which covers almost all pre-tour expenses. Return non stop CDG to SFO didn't change.

One more day in Rome. Darn!

Posted by
1198 posts

What Jazz said: "otherwise you just have to be prepared to search every day..."
Thats what I always do. Back when I was planning trips pre 2020, I did notice several years in a row that November (I think it was the final week right after Thnxgiving) and second week of January had the cheapest flights for our usual travel in July (cant speak to May because I wasn't looking at that but the dip in price during those two weeks was dramatic).
The other thing we've done is a circle trip where we flew in and out of one airport, and for part of the completion of the circle we flew from Rome to AMS for 30 euro per OW ticket. Domestic European flights can be cheap (not a guarantee of course) so if the open jaw price is painful, you could try looking at that

Posted by
863 posts

I know most of the forum oldsters like the adventure of handling their own travel arrangements but, sheesh, I don't want to learn a new skill just to visit Europe. I rely on a good friend who is in the travel business. She knows where to find all the best deals, how to work the systems, how to arrange connections without panic, what insurance I should carry, and how to add value to my trip without necessarily adding costs.

Just saying, might be worth contacting an agency. Might not but can't hurt.

Posted by
1783 posts

You can book eleven months out for the flagship carriers (major airlines i.e., Alitalia and Air France) but not true for budget carriers (Ryanair for example) whose fares become available six months out. The problem with airlines is the best deal may not be until three weeks before departure.
Hotels on the other hand tend to be cheaper the further out you book and Eurostar train tickets are cheaper the further out you book. Some museums are the same way i.e., the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where you need to reserve at least two months out.

Posted by
7196 posts

You can book eleven months out for the flagship carriers but not true for budget carriers (Ryanair for example) whose fares become available six months out.

Not a fact. Budget airlines based in Europe (e.g. Easy Jet, Ryanair, Vueling, Wizz) allow booking as far as 1 year out depending on the route.

Hotels on the other hand are cheaper the further out

This is not always the case. There are always last minute discounts to entice people that are free to get away spur of the moment.

Posted by
7196 posts

I know most of the forum oldsters like the adventure of handling their own travel arrangements but, sheesh, I don't want to learn a new skill just to visit Europe.

I use to think that way until I found it easy to do it myself after not having the big bucks to afford a Rick Steves Tour or a travel agent. Albeit, I worked for Virgin Atlantic for about 2 years and had friends in the industry before that who use to give me free advice and buddy passes for flights Europe.

Posted by
3226 posts

I think your guess is as good mine. Predicting airline behaviour is hard is normal times and we now see a situation that we haven't seen before so trying to predict what they will do in the near future is hard. But we can guess. As the world opens up we will see more flights added and my guess is that we will see more in the next few months. I recieved a notice from SAS recently that they are restarting their Stockholm-New York and Copenhagen-Tokyo routes and I guess other airlines are doing the same.

So while I of course can't guarantee anything, I think that if you wait a few months you will see more options. Which of course also depend a bit on where your local airport is, if it a small regional airport or a major hub.

Eurostar train tickets are cheaper the further out you book.

Not only Eurostar, all train tickets with flexible prices tend to only go up the closer you get to departure.

Posted by
4674 posts

There's no secret, there's no special date or technique. Airlines use a number of algorhithms to set prices which are based on a whole variety of factors. Airline sales are the only sure fire way of obtaining a cheaper airfare.

People say that buying airline tickets closer to your travel date will be cheaper but that's never been my experience. Yesterday I bought four tickets from Southampton to Palma for this August using the travel vouchers that we received in lieu of not being able to fly last year. The price was slightly less than what we paid for the tickets which were bought a year in advance and prior to Covid. One would expect that ticket prices would be more competitively priced in the current environment but not necessarily so.

I never wait around hoping for prices to drop, if I know when I'm going somewhere I will look at flights, typically BA because of loyalty status, and buy them if I'm happy with the price. I know from experience that prices are unlikely to drop and may even rise. A friend who travelled with us recently decided to hold off buying his flights when the rest of us booked ours thinking he would get them cheaper closer to the date, in fact the price rose considerably by the time he bought them.

Posted by
2919 posts

I suspect that through the next months the airlines will get more and more flights back into the schedule. The more flights they have, the lower the demand so the lower the price. Right now, there is pent up demand (in many areas) causing prices to be high. I'd wait and just keep checking at weird hours over the next months. You are 11 months out at this point so there's no hurry. IMO

Posted by
6649 posts

In the Before Times, the major US carriers, would have a sale around Thanksgiving holidays. I'm considering waiting until then for a trip next June. But I'll be keeping an eye on news reports.

The problem that some of us have (those who need connecting flights to get to a gateway airport), is that the further out you book flights, the greater likelihood that departure times and itineraries will change. Airlines will probably juggling things around for a while until (if) things stabilize. So I look at current schedules for next year to be just a tentative placeholder.

Posted by
2719 posts

This year will likely be different due to COVID and schedule shifting. However, I can tell you my pre-2020 experience for whatever that is worth.

I’ve had very good luck buying pretty early. Like 6-9 months out. That’s not to say prices never drop after that, but it’s a gamble. Sometimes they rise significantly and I’d rather lock in a good rate early vs wait and maybe end up with a deal, but maybe be stuck paying a lot more than the earlier offer.

So I’d look right now just to see a baseline - this early it is unlikely to be a good price. However you can see what flights are available and the cost. If you have flexibility on dates or airports you can compare. Maybe there is a direct flight 2 days a week, or maybe airport X is much cheaper than Y. This is the information gathering stage. Figure out a price you are happy with and buy the tickets when it hits that amount.

A note - this far out schedules do change. If it’s a big change the airlines will rebook you if the new option doesn’t work. However this is much easier if you book through the airline as opposed to a third part sight. So I always think it’s worth it to book on the airline’s website. Sometimes it costs more, but it helps with service issues. Probably more important now since I bet things will be in flux for awhile.

Posted by
185 posts

Even in non pandemic times, I usually buy my flight 2-4 months before departure. Deals for flights don’t usually start showing up until 6 months before at a minimum. So honestly, I would check again in three months, then again in 6 months to see what you’re options are. You can always follow a specific route to see if the price drops so low you must jump on it. But you’ll probably be fine just sitting back and watching the situation unfold. I’m sure more routes will open up, but the fall/winter is a very uncertain time as cases may rise again resulting in more lock downs and restricted travel thus stunting the growth of more transatlantic routes.

Posted by
2096 posts

Set up the tracking feature on Google Flights. You will be notified when prices go up and down, and can get a feel of the range of prices. Once you see a price you like , book directly with the airlines, however, not through a third party.
Safe travels!

Posted by
8412 posts

After you buy, don't look at the prices again. What's done is done. Just enjoy your trip.