I'm wondering if I should book now for a June/July trip to Italy and France or if I'm more likely to get a better fare closer but not to close to our departure. Anyone have any resources for determining how far in advance of a trip it is optimal to purchase tickets?
Flights will go up for this summer the longer you wait. I'm not sure what a good fare would be from LA. Try booking during the end of March or early April. That might be your best bet.
My family will also be heading to Italy June/July time frame. I have been watching fares since October. It has been very frustrating. In talking both to United, American and several of the consolidators, they expect fares to come down soon for summer travel. They said they may not drop as much as past years, but the rates that are currently being shown are definitely due for a drop. I would expect that if you don't see a significant drop by late March, you probably should lock in. The indications I am getting say it should drop from the West Coast to Italy to around $1100 or maybe less round trip. Currently they are closer to $1500.
I think that kind of depends what is important to you.
You might find a better fare, but, will it also be the flight and/or flight time or airline that you would prefer? I just purchased my tickets for a summer trip to Scotland. What I noticed was that the prices were not coming down, and, the seats were filing up for the times, airports and carriers that I wanted. In one case the plane simply sold out.
So I bit the bullet and booked. Of course, that is virtually a guarantee that the prices will drop tomorrow...=)
I just found a $1300 special on Alitalia from LAX to Rome for June/July. They are running an introductory special for a few days. I went ahead and booked my family since everything else I have been able to find since October was around $1500. Everyone I talk to does not think the fares will go down very much, because the airlines have successfully passed the fuel and taxes on to the consumers and they are selling tickets very well without much pushback from the public.
Have been tracking tickets from Seattle to London/Madrid the last 3 months, $1300-1500 major carriers/all routes. Just last week bought tickets on NW Airlines for $670 RT each, Seattle to London. Then took Ricks advice and purchased tickets on easyjet from London to Madrid $60!! Saved about $2000 for my family of three.