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Don't Look Back

I always make airline reservations pretty far in advance of the trip. I track them for few months then wake up one morning and say today is the day to do it, I can't wait any longer. This year I booked 8 months in advance. I checked today and the price is $632 less than what I paid. That's 44% cheaper. I know I shouldn't have looked. There's always talk about the optimal time to buy, I guess I missed it. Just wanted to commiserate with fellow travelers, I can't tell my travel partner.

Posted by
2353 posts

Call the airline - some offer credit for future travel or some cases the change fee might be far less than the price drop still saving money

The worst they can say is sorry - no

Posted by
2950 posts

Oops...More data please. When did you make your reservation? What month and airline are you flying?

Only once did we call the airline and pay a fee to rebook at the new lower price. It wouldn't hurt to call and ask (or read the fine print online).

Posted by
1068 posts

I don't think mine ever dropped 44%, but mine have certainly dropped. It really is a crap shoot about when you buy tickets. Especially when there is the occasional "sale." In general, I must say the strategy of buying then not looking back is the way to go. The first time I saw tickets drop more than $200 (several weeks after I bought mine and after months of following prices) I realized what most of the sensible articles on airline pricing say is true, you can't predict anymore. Anyone who has had this happen to them can commiserate. Just enjoy your trip.

Posted by
3932 posts

If It helps you feel a little less pain, the difference in price is probably about 10% of your overall trip cost. Good planning & decisions for the other expenses of your trip, i.e. purchasing train tickets early, selection of hotels/accomodations, food, etc. will save you at least that amount. : )

Posted by
3932 posts

Agree with other postings, when you're okay with the price and ready to buy, don't look back. Look forward to your adventure!

Posted by
31319 posts

I never worry about that, as there's no way to accurately predict what the prices are going to be several months from now. Sometimes even the airlines can't even predict that far ahead. One major event (ie: a spike in oil prices) can change the picture quickly. Eight months in advance is too much (IMO) and I probably would have waited a couple of months and booked at 4-6 months.

I've got my flights booked for this year and since I can't change the prices I paid, I don't dwell on it.

Posted by
3188 posts

Ordinarily I don't; but I once did look back, when I got an e-mail from the airline advertising a sale. The tickets were $750 cheaper for the two of us. Even after paying the ridiculously high $250/pp rebooking fee, we came out $250 ahead. That's not chump change to me. Go with the advice given, to contact the airline and see what you can wangle.

Posted by
2169 posts

I'm in the don't look back camp, definitely. I booked my trip last October, leaving tomorrow, flying into Paris and home from Budapest (with a $120 flight in between) and it was $1065. Previous trips to Europe booked 5-8 months in advance have all been much higher, like around $1600-1700, so I am pleased. Getting the airlines, connecting city (I prefer Frankfurt) and times I want is worth it to me to book in advance and be done with it.

Posted by
324 posts

You made me look!

My exact same itinerary for September is $300 less than I paid in January. After any fare adjustment fees, I would get about $11 back. I'm not too crushed because I caught (what was then) a lower price and paid $300 less than it had been, and that was about what I paid for the same in 2013 and 2014. I have been tracking IND-LHR for 4 years now, so I have an idea of what the prices will be.

I hope this means lots of seats for me to stretch out in and sleep!

Posted by
1068 posts

Miranda, that is kind of what I do (minus the looking back.) I start checking about 9 months out to get a "feel" for what prices are and what types of routes are available. Then I check a couple of times a week to see what is going on with them. Once I see a drop of a few $$, I buy and live with it. Nobody knows what will happen with prices and I have (in the past before I stopped looking back) noticed that ticket prices also go up. Now, after I have the ticket, I just enjoy prepping for the trip.

Posted by
1631 posts

Thanks for your comments. I spent almost two hours on the phone with Delta this afternoon (mostly on hold) and here's what happened. They offered to refund (cash back) $323.84 on each ticket. I have no idea where they came up with that number, but since they were changeable/non-refundable tickets, I didn't think I had a lot of bargaining power. This makes me feel a lot better. Thanks again for your help!

Posted by
3932 posts

$323 of "found money" to really enjoy your trip! Congrats!

Posted by
250 posts

My mom said she read somewhere 6.5 months out is the best time to buy international flights. I don't know where that came from, but the travel agent agreed it was not too early to book them. Has anyone else heard/read this before? Does it make sense?

I never understood why people look back after booking nonrefundable flights. Do they really think airlines will give money back when the price drops after the flights are booked? If that was possible nobody would wait and see if prices drop before booking flights.

Posted by
324 posts

Non-refundable and non-changeable are not the same thing. My tickets are non-refundable, but they are changeable. I am only eligible for $11 because the change fee for international flights is $300. If I had bought the tickets at the original $1400, instead of $1100, I would be able to re-book and get back ~$300 because they are selling for $800 now.

Posted by
1068 posts

My mom said she read somewhere 6.5 months out is the best time to buy international flights. I don't know where that came from, but the travel agent agreed it was not too early to book them. Has anyone else heard/read this before? Does it make sense?

That and many many other "truisms" about the best time to buy tickets abound. You even continue to see articles written by "travel experts" revealing how to get cheap tickets. However, if you have some constrains on when/where you will fly, most of the good writers (IMHO) say the current algorithms used by airlines to price tickets is far too complicated to predict when prices will be low. That isn't even taking into account factors like changes in fuel prices or "events" in a particular country. Some valid truisms apparently still exist (such as traveling in the off season is generally cheaper, business travelers often travel Mon or Fri so prices are higher those days.) But IMHO, nobody can really predict anymore. Personally, I like about 6 months out for booking tickets, but I don't think it is any cheaper at that point, just feel comfortable having that part of the planning out of the way.

Posted by
2353 posts

YAY!!!! - See it never hurts to ask! I would say $323/hr is a pretty good use of your time. Now you can be the hero to your travel partner and splurge on something during your trip!

Posted by
324 posts

But I'm not buying blindly. I've been tracking that particular route for 4 years and have a pretty good idea of what a good price is. What I paid in January was essentially the same price I paid in 2013 and 2014. Current events have made the prices lower than normal.

I'm flying from a smaller market and have less choice than the East and West coasters, so I don't have the opportunity to fly the Norwegians or Icelandairs for bargain prices or take advantage of fare wars.

Posted by
1068 posts

Miranda, sounds like you did a great job. I really think you did all that anyone can do.....get an idea of ticket prices, watch them, buy when they seem to be going down. After that it is anyone's guess.

Posted by
14454 posts

I was kicking myself for not booking my trip to the US back in February when prices were low. By the time I got around to it (a trip to Spain got in the way☺), the price way more. I revamped my multi-city itinerary and managed to pare it down to a reasonable price. A couple of weeks later, I looked back. Lo and behold the price for my original plan had dropped a lot. So I'm spending $250 more on airfare with my new plan than if I'd waited. But it turns out that my revised itinerary actually works out much better, so I'm not unhappy.

Posted by
324 posts

I'm not complaining or anything; I think that the airlines know how to maximize what they can get for a seat and there aren't any real tricks to getting a bargain anymore, just luck and sometimes tragedy. You just have to buy at a price you are willing to pay and don't look back :-).

And because I obviously have nothing better to do today, I looked again, and the flights are $1400 again!

Lot's wife has nothing on me!

Posted by
1631 posts

I already made my deal with Delta, but after reading Miranda's post, I looked again. My flights are back up, the price is $500 more than it was yesterday. Now it's just $100 less than what I paid in January. I don't think there is a "right" time to buy.