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How far in advance should I buy airline tickets?

Hello, My current plan is to book an open jaw flight (US/Finland,Turkey/US) leaving the U.S. mid may, returning in mid June. (flying on Tuesdays, with flexibility of a few days) The Google consensus is that 8 weeks is the rule of thumb for the cheapest flights. But, I did a simulation test of booking in advance on kayak. (essentially I moved my trip one week forward and recorded the lowest fare in the airline search until I reached today's date. ) My results were that the change of fares was very low (range of $15) from 2 months to 3 weeks. Between 1 & 3 weeks the rates went lower as much as $100. And before 1 week they started going up a lot of course. I think the most glaring overlooked variable in my test is that flights could naturally just be cheaper now, and flights to Europe will go up as it gets closer to summer. Basically what I'm asking for recommendations in how far in advance to buy airline tickets. How much would I "risk" in waiting for the 2-3 week mark to see if I can grab some savings seen in my test. Naturally it would bother me if the prices went up a lot instead.

Posted by
1167 posts

I would not wait any longer. Given the run up in fuel prices with no real prospect of relief it seems unlikely that fares will do anything but go up now. Also, the closer to your travel date the less likely it will be to get a decent seat.

Posted by
11973 posts

I think I saw a rule of thumb of 12-16 weeks somewhere. I don't do it based on weeks before travel as much as shopping around enough to know what is a decent price, then buy at or near that price Another factor is getting seats on the plane you want. A good itinerary is important too. Buy early enough to get the seat on the shortest trip duration. If you wait too long, you're likely to pay more for a flight that takes longer and includes more connections.

Posted by
6950 posts

Clark Howard was talking on CNN this weekend, and when to buy tickets is one of his most received questions. Clark was a travel agent, and has a staff scouring the internet for travel bargains. He talks about travel in detail on his syndicated radio show out of Atlanta. Clark said: The airline industry recently completed a very detailed study of when the best prices are, and millions of flights were examined.
45 days before destination is the optimum time to purchase flights. Rising costs of jet fuel and high demand are keeping the international flights expensive this summer. Airline consolidations over the past few years have resulted in European flights flying full, and airlines are now quick to withdraw from unprofitable routes. Prices are products of supply and demand. The current "low" fares go up dramatically on 4/1/12, and they essentially double for mid summer departures. Bargains are getting harder and harder to come by for the near future.