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Do you have airline schedule / ticket rules?

From time to time I hear about great deals on airline tickets. I’ve gotten some “good” prices in the past, but never the crazy cheap tickets that I hear about. Maybe it’s my self-imposed rules:

  1. no longer than 21 hours
  2. no more than two layovers
  3. minimum 2 hour layovers
  4. add 45 minutes to the layover minimums at HRW, JFK and CDG
  5. add 1.25 hours to layover when re-entering the US for Customs, Immigration and Security
  6. no split tickets unless it involves a multi-day layover
  7. “Economy Plus” or similar for the transatlantic leg (EDIT: when I can get it for under $150 a seat - by the way I am 6+ foot tall)
  8. no layover in Istanbul (for the time being) or Moscow

Edits to my list

  1. Per Agnes below: never travel in late June, July, August or early September with out a dang good reason.
  2. Aisle seat
  3. per MsEB, I have to be able to pick my seat when I purchase the ticket; absolutely mandatory on the transatlantic portion.
Posted by
6167 posts

James E., what's your airport? I never see great deals either. The airfare to get to the gateway airport from KC usually eats up any big savings.

Agree with no less than 2 hour layover.

Posted by
10257 posts

It is sometimes cheaper to buy two tickets: one from your local airport to a larger international one and then one from there to your international destination. (I know you said you don't want split tickets but this might be much cheaper and probably safe if you give yourself enough time.)

Also look at going to a secondary airport in your connection city, if in the U.S., and taking public transport or a cab to the other airport. (Factor this cost into your overall cost.)

If you fly "Economy Plus" you are not going to get the "crazy cheap tickets." Those are premium seats and becoming more in demand for longer flights.

Posted by
6766 posts

I only have one hard rule - I don't travel in the summer and peak periods (except to see family over Christmas) to avoid heat, crowds, and high prices. I'm very flexible on everything else, including Istanbul layovers. As a caveat - I'm very lucky to live in an area with a competitive airline market (and relatively close to Europe), so I don't feel as much need to have constraints in place to make my trip reasonably satisfying. If I was flying from the West Coast or a smaller market, probably some variables would come into play that I take for granted now.

Posted by
12819 posts

Frank II, sometimes I will do an open jaw and then purchase a local discount airline to connect the two points. Just returned from Ukraine; went in on Delta/AF spent a week then used Wizzair to get to Budapest where after another week I picked up the return on the Delta/AF open jaw ticket. That doesn't scare me, but a 3 hour layover to another ticket would worry me. I've had trips delayed an entire day due to terrorism scares, hurricanes and equipment failures. If I were retired and had all the time in the world I would probably think differently about it.

Agnes, I come from the Southwest. My choices are generally because I am spoiled; there is no "need" for most of them and I guess on the economy plus situation, if everything else about the flight is perfect, then i can live with out it. The upcharge for the transatlantic portion of the flight can be as little as $150.

Posted by
6766 posts

never travel in late June, July, August or early September with out a dang good reason.

YES!!!!!!! 100% I made the mistake a few times forgetting that early September might as well be August, even this year. I also include early/ mid June because I just don't trust the weather patterns anymore.

Posted by
12819 posts

Saying that, I just got back from an August/early September trip. But it was for an annual celebration that i wanted to participate in. It was worth every droplet of sweat. Actually it wasn't that bad at all; the temperatures were reasonable and while the place was packed, very, very, few were from outside the country, so it added to the experience.

My problem with summer travel isn't so much the crowds; don't often go to highly popular locations any longer. It's purely the temperatures; and even then its the temperatures inside, not outside. The Europeans just haven't mastered air conditioning (more accurately, aren't willing to pay the electric bills). The streets can be passable and the restaurant sweltering. The second half of this years August/September trip was in Budapest where I had outstanding "American Style" air-conditioning. Still, i am looking forward to the January trip.

Posted by
2168 posts

If it is possible to fly direct to a place--London, Paris, so far--then that's the ticket I buy. Cheaper flight with a connection will not sway me.

Preferred European hub is Frankfurt.

Avoid connecting through CDG--did it twice, one was a Kafka-esque nightmare, so, never again.

One connection, preferred time is no less than 2 hours and no more than 4.

I used to be a window seat kind of gal but have re-thought and do aisle now.

Ideal ticket has me leaving SFO around 2 pm and arriving between 11 am - 3 pm. Return seems to always be the 6 am-ish flight, arrives at SFO between 1 - 3 pm.

Posted by
1985 posts

I try to arrive at my destination in the afternoon or evening. I will always pay more for a nonstop flight. One connection is my maximum. I buy Premium Economy unless it's hundreds and hundreds of dollars more.

I hate running through airports frazzled and late. If I need to connect, I do 3 hours or more.

Posted by
795 posts

No more than 1 connection and never CDG. Usually look for Tues, Wed, Sat tickets, never in summer. Almost always open jaws tickets on Delta (because I'm in Atlanta) but I start out by looking at a RT ticket to my beginning and ending cities and checking the flexible days option so I can quickly find if there are any cheap days that month. Once I find the days I want to travel, I check the Delta site EVERY day to see what the ticket price is, money and miles. I pay for the "Economy Comfort" upgrade, about $100, on the flight to Europe, but usually not on the return to the US. (Trying to increase my chances of a little sleep because I'm usually driving when I land.)

I'm taking friends to Germany this December, into Frankfurt and out of Munich on nonstop fights. I started looking in June and eventually found a $650 Delta ticket for my friends on a sale that lasted less than 48 hours. I started at 67,500 FF miles for my ticket but have now gotten it down to 49K. Last year I got it for 42K, and I'm still hopeful. (I expected my flight to drop, so I booked it using my husband's miles because he doesn't have to pay the change fee, and I do.)

FYI We've been extremely loyal to Delta for many years because we live in their hub and they've treated us well. However, every year we lose more FF benefits, and I'm getting more interested in other airlines if their price is right. Hope you're listening, Delta. Doubt if I'm alone on this.

Posted by
167 posts

I like Frankfort and Munich , pleasant, clean with nice facilities. Have flown into both those German airports quite a few times. However I have never flown into CDG. What is the reason(s) that CDG is not a favorite airport?

Posted by
2946 posts

Although I have my favorites, I'll fly into any European airport in order to be in Europe.

I won't fly some carriers.

I won't accept more than 1 connection and that connection (if nonstop) should have 2+hours.

I will accept any seat that reclines and doesn't have a stupid box under it as long as one of our 2 adjoining seats is an aisle seat.

So far we've always had meals, seat selection and one bag check provided. I might be willing to forgo these for the right price on a carrier like Norwegian in the future.

Posted by
795 posts

CDG. Unorganized and rude. I have no statistical proof, but anecdotal evidence suggests this may be a likely place to lose your luggage. I like the French people just fine, but CDG has a disproportionate percentage of surly ones. (Years ago they refused to hand inspect my carefully unwrapped paper rolls of professional film, offering to call the gendarmes instead. I don't think I've ever forgiven them....)

Posted by
12819 posts

Chucky D. I call it. Reminds me of those old Chucky horror movies. I've been there once, and i would again if i absolutely had to, but for the past 6 years i have been able to avoid it.

I have to accept 2 connections as there is almost no international service from my home town, so those that say no more than one connection have the good fortune to be able to do that.

Posted by
2946 posts

@ James E I would have to count 2 connections too if I flew from my local airport but we have always driven 1.5-2h to LA for a nonstop flight or one connection flight. We only flew internationally using FF miles from SBA once, it just isn't worth it with such small planes at a small airport.

Posted by
2353 posts

For flights to Europe we usually use miles. I pick the best flights that are available using saver miles for 1st class. It helps to be flexible in dates and arrival cities

Posted by
12819 posts

Mona, my nearest international airport is 4 hours away. I could drive that on the outbound, but don't want to drive it on the inbound when I am poooped. Oddly enough there is no cost savings by driving to the international airport. Rates are the same from my local airport. So I would be driving 4 hours for no cost benefit.

Posted by
1357 posts

Flying in and out of Santa Barbara is pricey. I am able to do it at times, for the same as out of LAX, if I can connect in or out of Denver. If not, I do the drive to LA.

Posted by
926 posts

I am new to traveling. Have been on only one transatlantic RT flight so far.
When I went on that trip I wasn't interested in travel in general (thought it might be my only trip).
One of my clients encouraged me to travel first class. I usually work 4 days per week, but I added 5 half days of work to pay for the flight. I was on United: CLE, EWR, DUB and then the reverse.

The flight over was heaven. I told the flight attendant no dinner. I was asleep within 30 minutes of taking off and woke up just in time to have breakfast. I chose a window seat so that no one was climbing over me to go to the bathroom and luckily I did not disturb my neighbor until morning. I had nearly 6 hours of sleep which is a lot for me because I am a poor sleeper.
On the first day in Dublin I mostly did outdoor things. Walked, HoHo, parks. In the evening I went to a dinner with fairy tales. I didn't get to bed until after 10:00. I had about 20 minutes in the afternoon where I felt like sleeping on a park bench, but otherwise it was terrific.

I did not get as much benefit from the daytime flight on the way back and there were extenuating circumstances.

That trip started something and now I want to see more. But I am afraid to book economy because I hate flying. For my next trip I am going business class on the way over and economy plus on the way back. I often get days of terrible neck pain after flying and I don't want to be miserable. So for now will work extra to get a seat that goes flat. If I do OK in economy plus may pick that option next time.

I also like longer layovers. As long as I am on my own (no travel partner) I can entertain myself in an airport, but have a lot of anxiety about missing a flight.

Posted by
1251 posts
  1. Avoid Philadelphia at all cost.
  2. All domestic flights - non-stop. International flights - No more than 1 layover.
  3. Applies to International flights only - Minimum 2 hour layover going. Minimum 3 hour layover returning.
  4. Aisle seat
Posted by
24 posts
  1. No return flight to the U.S. before 10:00 am
  2. Will travel any month but June - August.
  3. Two flights maximum, but no more than 12 hour duration to Europe (which I have the luxury of specifying since I travel from Chicago.)


Posted by
12400 posts

I don't have many "rules" on scheduling or flights, the basic idea is to roll with it.

  1. Always fly direct from SFO to London, FRA, or Paris CDG., unless there is a big difference in price
  2. Reserve the first night at the place of accommodation, be it a hostel, Pension, or a big hotel.

  3. No problems going in the summer, from mid-May to Sept.

  4. Prefer an isle seat in the rear, not interested in a window seat.

  5. Pick a flight going over that lands between 0800 to 1100, much better to arrive early in the morning.

  6. Flight will be in Economy class.

  7. Departing flight from SFO between 1330 to 1600., still it'll be ca 11 hrs direct.

  8. No watching movies going over...absolutely.

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Ann...Paris CDG is the one airport that generates strong opinions, unlike FRA, London LHR, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Gatwick. Munich, etc, depends on your perspective. I would say that some of the negative comments attributed to CDG are valid, but then does that bother you? True, sometimes confusion takes place there, I've seen it myself; true, that the luggage is sometimes tardy, excessive so relative to an airport. .

I've flown in/out of CDG to SFO numerous times, the last time going in was 2015. I have never had to make a connecting flight CDG, which is another "rule" ...avoid connecting flights after landing.

Basically, I have no problems with CDG, it doesn't bother me, one reason is I'm used to it and know how to exit it easily, if I don't want to linger there after picking up the luggage.

Posted by
1976 posts

I don't travel in summer anymore because of heat, crowds, and higher costs

Won't fly on US Airways / American Airlines

Won't fly through Philadelphia

No more than 2 layovers. St. Louis barely has an international airport but there are nonstop flights to big hubs like Chicago, Newark, and Atlanta. I prefer a layover in Chicago going and coming because it's only a 45-minute flight from St. Louis. It feels almost like an extension of my home airport.

Posted by
11613 posts
  1. Do not connect through JFK.
  2. Economy comfort (or whatever it's called).
Posted by
2773 posts
  1. Fly specific BA day flight to Heathrow unless an unbelievable deal .... a. if transferring to another flight, would be scheduled the next day, so reserve a room at Sofitel T5
  2. If in economy, a seat at the front of the group, just behind bulkhead
  3. an aisle seat
  4. If transferring and didn't take my day flight to Heathrow, have a 2 1/2-3 hour layover.
  5. Vegetarian meal

PS. 6. Return flight is always scheduled in the afternoon...I will not rush to fly home, only to fly out. :)