Please sign in to post.

Flights: How far in advance to buy

Hi everyone, we are travelling to Italy in October. When should we book?

The first time we travelled to Europe in 2015 we booked 6+ months in advance. Not only did the price go down, but we were rebooked several times, which repeatedly cancelled our preferred seat selections to where we had no choices by the time we were informed of the flight change. Our round trip flights were miserable.

Last time we travelled we booked about 3 months in advance, no problems whatsoever. But here we are today in a gas shortage, world unrest, etc. Prices actually look good right now, but we're afraid of the above scenario, where our direct flight to Europe might be repeatedly changed to one with multiple stops and other changes. We would wait, but seats are selling out, so there's that...

Any opinions?

Posted by
146 posts

Set up flight alerts on Google Flights (search for flights, playing with departure airports and departure/arrival dates and times, if you have flexibility) and then have it alert you if the price of any of your watched flights change. If it's a price you can live with, book. Book only a fare class that will give you a flight credit if you need to cancel (for example, anything but Basic Economy on Delta) and book directly with the airline, not with an outfit like Expedia or Cheapo Air.
We're doing RS Best of Istanbul in October and I'm starting to think about booking our flights for that. Debating booking with Turkish (direct flight) vs a US based carrier or partner (connecting flight) in terms of which I'd rather have credit with, in the event of cancellation.

Posted by
942 posts

I booked my flights TODAY for my September trip. I'd been stalking the prices for a few months and had Google flights notifications set up. My advice is when you find a good price, book it and forget it. Don't torture yourself by looking at flights after you've booked. Focus your energy on planning the actual trip.

Posted by
5157 posts

Things have changed in the travel landscape and the old "rules of thumb" are no longer true (if they ever were). If you find a price that is acceptable to you go ahead and buy. Statistically, airfares are up around 40% from where they were a year ago according to my local news station. Will that trend continue? Will it impact your route and dates? We can only guess.

Travel these days is all about flexibility. Your flights may change, covid travel requirements probably will change, you simply have to be willing to go with it. You might want to hold off purchasing any seat assignments until closer to the actual date.

Personal Experience: I purchased tickets last September for a trip this May. I did buy them during a sale, but I priced them again about a month ago. The price had doubled.

Posted by
598 posts

We've booked our flights for Sept and Dec already. We usually book at our earliest opportunity which is 330 days out from your return date. We got Business Class seats for under $1000. Now they are close to $3700. We fly over to Europe usually once a year and have always had the best luck at our 330 day mark - we usually fly Coach or Premium Select, but this time, Business Class was about the same price. We are picky about layover times and seats, so we love to book early.

Posted by
218 posts

I booked my September trip to Italy on March 4th. However: I was looking for a reasonable deal on business class and when Google Flights showed me what I was willing to pay I jumped on it.

Airline schedule changes happen weekly, and you will not necessarily get any notification from the airline until a few weeks out, if that. Check your booking weekly to stay on top of things so you don't get left with Hobson's Choice on seat selection if your flights or aircraft change.

Posted by
2086 posts

I'd suggest using Flight Aware to check if the flights you want are currently flying , and if so, what the dependability has been. Covid has totally changed the landscape. Last Sept., we had six flight changes, as the flights we booked weren't really flying [we later discovered. ] The situation has improved since then, but I SUSPECT the airlines are still canceling flights that don't have enough butts in seats. If you find that your flights have been consistently flying without being canceled, that may help your decision.
Safe travels!

Posted by
6869 posts

We generally watch airfares for a couple of months to get the feel of the trend in fares. Whenever we see a big decrease in price, we'll jump on it as far as 6 months prior to leaving. My wife's hobby is finding the cheapest airfares, and we usually find something 50% or less than what most people are paying. Our cancelled 2021 trip was $403, but we're paying $600 for next month into London.

But 2022 is not a normal year, with jet fuel prices going up and up. Who knows what the airlines are going through--especially after 2 disasterous pandemic years. Somehow those monthly lease payments on airliners are going to have to be made, and that means airlines must charge enough to turn a profit somewhere.

Some of our best trips to Europe have been in times of world unrest--like wars in Iraq. We're not beyond going contra to the norm, especially if the tourism is down in volume. There are plenty of safe places to visit.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi everyone, and thank you for your input. We pulled the trigger today and feel really good about it. We are using miles for business class. We found tix for 58k on Air France each way/per person. By comparison, we used 75k each way/pp in 2019. We are thrilled. Your advice of buy when palatable and stop stressing was the best ever. Done! Now we get the pleasure of planning the details! Thank you again!