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Buying airline tickets

So I was wondering your thoughts on the best time to buy tickets? I can get tickets to Prague for December at a pretty good price right now. Does anyone else buy 11 months in advance?

Posted by
87 posts

I bought my tickets for Greece last June for an April departure. I’ve read on several sites that if you see a decent price overseas just take it because they don’t fluctuate that much for international flights. I don’t know if that’s true or not. However, between then and now that flight has changed four times, and yesterday I just found out that one leg was canceled. I’m sure much of this has to do with Covid and staff shortages. So, if you’re willing to deal with changes that might pop up I don’t see any problem with buying early. I personally like the peace of mind of that part of the puzzle has been taken care of.

Posted by
20797 posts

International fares can fluctuate a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if that varies by route. I've never bought a ticket 11 months ahead of time; I think 5 months out is about the earliest I've ever made the purchase. Right now I'd not be inclined to buy so early because of the uncertainty about rules, travel, etc. Many airlines have better credit or refund options than usual right now, to encourage people to commit. I'd check the rules carefully, though, for the expiration date of any promised credit. Is it XX months after the date of purchase, or is it linked to the date of travel?

Som folks live in areas served by only one international airline. For me, there are a lot of choices, and I wouldn't want to be stuck with a credit I had to use on one specific airline or its partners. I'd want to be able to choose the best flight available from among all the options.

One pattern I've noticed is that the fare difference between a fast routing and a routing requiring additional transfers and/or very long layovers may initially be fairly small and then widen significantly as the departure date approaches. If you're the sort of traveler who is not going to be willing to deal with more transfers than are necessary and you see one flight routing you consider much more desirable than all the others, keep in mind that it may become comparatively more expensive as time goes on. On the other hand, if you buy super-early on the basis of the schedule the airline thinks it's going to be operating in December, that's a lot of time for a key component of that best-available routing to end up being canceled, leaving you to scramble for other options in the end, anyway.

Posted by
892 posts

I agree with Anne, I buy my tickets as soon as I can and if the price is right.

Posted by
1028 posts

I buy early because:

*I get a dopamine response when I own a plane ticket
*I am familiar with pricing from my regional airport and feel comfortable that I can recognize a good price
*I fly with Delta and have been happy with how I have been treated regarding canceled flights, changes in flights, etc.
*I know that I am going to be flying somewhere as often as possible, so am OK with getting a credit if my personal circumstances require a change in plans

Posted by
578 posts

You can buy tickets at 330 days from your RETURN date. I usually find the prices best then- especially if you fly Delta Premium Select or Comfort Plus.

Now, if the plane doesn’t fill- you may see prices drop closer to fly date- but, by then- the best seats are gone

We are “hopefully” going to Switzerland in September and to the Xmas markets in December and we bought both of those flights at our 330 day mark- both MULTICITY tickets as we always do and we got a much better price than we usually do in coach class - we got Premium Select (larger seats and more leg room- similar to Business Class)- MULTICITY for $1100

Posted by
13392 posts

I guess its a crap shoot. To soon, like 300 days prior, and I loose a planning season. Too late (like 30 days prior) and I pay too much, as much as $700 more.

But 3 to 4 months has been a pretty sweet spot for cost, flexibility and the seat I want.

Bought open jaw tickets in December for Houston to Budapest, and Kharkiv back to Houston in March/April for one of the lowest prices in years ....

Posted by
206 posts

I recently asked Reddit r/Flights what the HISTORICALLY best time to book and was replied 3-6 months out. These days all bets are off, of course. Personally I'm going to start looking in earnest 6 months out for my trip, but will follow prices until then.

The usual advice is "If you see a price you like, grab it." I still remember my father's advice, (mumble years ago), re a similar situation: "The first offer is always the best." Which is a variation of "A bird in the hand..."

Posted by
1892 posts

I'd suggest to use Flight Aware to make sure the flights are actually being flown. We were sold tickets by British Airways for our Sept, 2021 Swiss trip, and then discovered that British Airways hadn't even flown into our city for the previous 18 months. We had six flight changes, [and then our connection in Chicago, 4 hours late, was canceled, and we spent the night in Chicago.]
The trip did turn out to be a wonderful experience, but it was work and took nerves of steel.

Covid has reduced the number of flights, and the airlines HOPE they will be flying certain routes in the future. So- if you get a good price, just be cognizant that the flights could be canceled/changed several times, and you may not end up with your original connections.

Good luck and safe travels!

Posted by
13392 posts

I just checked. I purchased a RT Houston - Budapest ticket for a late March departure and mid April return.

December 5th when I purchased it, it cost $671.87
Tonight I checked on the same flights: $599.27

Seats are an additional $106.00 total for standard economy (most expensive would run $316.00). Or dont buy a seat and take where they sit you for free. No luggage charges.

Posted by
6843 posts

We've been looking for flights to Europe for the end of May, 2022. The Nashville airport is usually the least expensive on flights--even when flying thru Atlanta. Atlanta flights are often more expensive.

Huntsville airport is relatively small, but we found the flights to Europe from here to be half that of major airports in the SE. Right now, Dublin and London are the cheapest places to fly into. Fortunately, budget European airlines fly for ridiculously low airfares from those cities.

We keep watch on flights thru Matrix ITA, however we buy tickets direct from the airline. We had a very, very negative experience with Ovago Travel 2 years ago, and we're now careful who we purchase flights from.