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Summertime airfare prediction?

For what it's worth, here's one particular view of what airline ticket prices will do this summer, from the owner of airfarewatchdog.com, in USA Today. The prices he mentions seem to be east coast USA, so adjust accordingly.

Posted by
4555 posts

Sorry Steve....I didn't see anything in that article about waiting until 90 days before your trip, that being the "sweet spot" for purchasing. In fact, the question posed by the headline remains unanswered by the author. He does note that overseas seat capacity is way, way down, that past traditional winter seat sales did not happen (by and large), and that "most destinations for summer travel this year will cost well over $1,000 round-trip with tax." So track fares to get an idea as to what the going rate is, then jump on a price drop, no matter when it happens.

Posted by
4555 posts

Steve...sorry, I seem to remember a 90 day recommendation in past posts....
In any event, don't be suckered in by the e-mails from airlines offering a "sale." They may be offering lower prices than their regular air fares, but that's no guarantee the price wasn't cheaper six months ago. Air Canada, for example, continues to send me notices of sales it has on now....and all have been more expensive than the tickets I purchased last November. E-mails from US Airways, United, Delta, KLM and Air France have also not come in below the prices they offered early last winter.

Posted by
9110 posts

This is really hard to follow. Norm keeps talking about ninety days but it sounds like he's talking to himself. Did Steve mention ninety days somewhere?

Posted by
3043 posts

Thank you for the post Norm! This article helpful in answering the most frequently asked question (when should I purchase my ticket to Europe) and explaining why the author thinks that "European travel will be more expensive" this summer. It confirms what many on this site say--when you find a good fare at a price that you can live with it's probably best to go ahead and purchase.

Posted by
11450 posts

I guess it must depend where you are flying to and from.

I never notice any "sweet spot" for summer, they are low in the winter,, and just slowly creep up,, been that way for me, flying from west coast to either London or Paris for last few ( 4-5) years.

I do wish that airline advertizing was more "what you see is what you get" , I have a friend who constantly phones me about deals she sees ( 399 to Europe!!) , in papers,online, etc,, and invariably , once taxes and fees are included,, the prices don't seem special at all anymore.. or prices listed are one ways,, or, you have to leave TOMORROW, LOL

Posted by
21356 posts

Ed, Norm is absolutely correct. Steve's standard response many times has been the 90 day mark. He is now adjusting his responses. But the point is, it is dice row. I have never had any luck with the fare alerts. I do get the alerts but by the time I get to them, the price is gone. I find the alerts are hitting my email around 2/3 AM and when I open at 6AM they are gone. So I don't think you can truthfully say that fare alerts will get you the fare you want. You have to be lucky and they can serve as a benchmark.

Posted by
2799 posts

I'm with Frank. Those "fare alerts" and sales never have worked for us. I see them as a come on, but when you go to actually buy, somehow the price is not available for the route you want.

And I wish I'd NEVER heard of the "sweet spot" or "ninety days out". We could have bought tickets for a late June family trip for around $1150 last November. But after reading the advice here---given so confidently--I decided to wait.

Now its 2 1/2 months away and the fares never dropped below that November price. Yesterday the cheapest I could find for a reasonable route was $1368. For our family of 4 that is almost $900 more---$900 we can't really justify spending right now. And we can't keep waiting---I haven't made any hotel reservations yet as we wanted to be flexible on the travel dates.

There were many people saying fares wouldn't drop this year, given the conditions---fewer seats, higher taxes, etc.---and I should have listened to those voices instead. Lesson learned.

Posted by
21356 posts

Sasha, that is the problem with unpredictability. Remember, those who tell you to wait have no dog in the fight. If the price falls, they pat themselves on the back, "See how smart I am." But if the prices rises they just walk away and forget what they had recommended. You have to buy when you believe the price is right. I think entirely too much brain damage is done trying to get a cheap airfare and save a hundred or two when it is easier to save that sum somewhere else in the mix. Sorry you were burned by listening to the expert. It is advice that I would not have given you.

Posted by
1821 posts

Sadly, the reason this thread is not useful is that we have some posters trying to "prove" that they are smarter then other posters by dragging unrelated posts/threads into this discusssion. I have no idea why they are doing this but....

Posted by
3043 posts

I don't think that this thread is about "some posters trying to "prove" that they are smarter." To me it's about making sure that people have the correct information so they can make good choices--especially newer travelers. Sasha makes a good point.

Many who have been tracking airfares are finding that prices for peak summer travel haven't gone down. Personally, I'm happy that I bought my tickets for May/June in January when the price was $1024 rather than waiting--I would have paid more for comparable seats. The article that Norm posted confirms that airfares for summer travel are more expensive this year.

Posted by
2193 posts

My best advice is to begin with some basic research and learning around your departure and return options, your destination, airline options, time of year, fare history, fare forecasts, what’s going on with the airlines, what’s happening in the industry, what’s happening with the economy, etc., and use this information to set a pre-determined dollar amount that’s acceptable to you and your traveling partner(s). Agree in advance to purchase the tickets as soon as you see the fare offered. Track fares for awhile. And, when the fare offered meets all of your requirements relative to days, times, airline, airports, equipment, or whatever else might be important to you, buy it without hesitation. The fare could change in the short amount of time it would take to phone your partner to ask if they’re okay with it. The more flexible you can be with any or all of your requirements, the higher the likelihood you’ll get a deal that is satisfactory. Sometimes, you’ll get a sweet deal and feel really, really good about it. More often, you’ll find a fare that works for you, and you’ll feel confident you made a good choice given all of the homework and time invested up front. There are so many factors impacting airfares that it’s nearly impossible to predict what will happen.

Sasha: That’s a serious bummer! I’ve never really understood the 90-day suggestion, because, frankly, I’ve never seen it pan out in all the years I’ve been looking at these fares. I’m sure it’s possibly worked out that way for some…I’ve just never personally seen it. For me, using the approach I’ve suggested has always netted a decent fare that I felt good about. And, I’ve paid as little as $425 total RT in summer and as much as $1300 total RT in the summer in just in the last few years. My most recent fare was $510 total RT in November. Regardless of what I paid, I felt good knowing that I did everything necessary to purchase a fare that was acceptable to me.

Posted by
9110 posts

Observations on experts and advice:

  1. Some perceived (self- or otherwise) experts are not experts.

  2. Repeating advice does not make it good advice.

  3. Extensive justification of the exceptional minutia of past advice when the general gist of the past advice has been proven inaccurate labels the giver of such advice a non-expert.

  4. Experts who purport to be experts on all things are probably experts on none.

  5. Experts who quote others are quoters. Experts are quoted.

  6. In a forum, one must look at the overall body of an expert's posts. Consistent inaccuracies in multiple areas would make the expertise in any area highly suspect.

  7. Posted links imply no expertise in anything other than posting links.

Posted by
408 posts

We typically travel to Europe out of Seattle. In the decade (plus) that we have been flying to Europe I have never found that the price drops for the 'special' routing - specifically, flying non-stop (over the pole) into Europe. We purchase mid-January (for a May departure). I have NEVER seen the price drop on that route after January. (And we would buy sooner if our plans were firm earlier.) So, yes, what Sasha reports (for the Seattle market) sounds right.

Posted by
12578 posts

That is our experience as well---also flying from Seattle. The prices don't drop; they just keep going up. So we buy early, and have always been glad we did.

We bought our tickets for late June last June, because we were co-ordinating with some FF miles tickets. I just checked the prices, and an economy seat on our flights is now $1775, some $250 more than it was 9 months ago. Yes, there are slightly cheaper flights, with US Air ($1367)----but that one comes with a 12-hour layover in Philadelphia. No thank you.

I think the "wait and jump when the fare looks good" might work for someone who is flexible and doesn't have a specific date or destination in mind---just wants to go to Europe, and is ready to go anytime, to most any destination that is offered on sale. For many of us, due to jobs, family demands or whatever, that just doesn't work.

Landing in Ireland on a sale fare when I want to go to Switzerland, for example, just doesn't make sense to me.

Also, I couldn't stand to wait until 2-3 months before travel to book our hotels. We are picky about location, ambiance, etc. and like to have a choice.

Posted by
2193 posts

Good points Keri and Lola. Last year, the best fares available for the destinations and timeframe I was considering were offered during the first quarter, and they started rising near the end of March. They kept going up incrementally and really didn’t dip again until the end of the third quarter. Even then, they never went down to what they were in early March, although they got close in October. I was happy to have purchased tickets in mid-March for a November trip. Seasonality is a factor in pricing, and it can be typical and sort of consistent year to year (directionally speaking). Still, nobody can really predict what will happen. The “experts” have no more insight than the educated traveler in this area IMO.

Posted by
3192 posts

I second what Keri and Lola said, and will add a few points of my own. In order to be useful to the novice traveler, advice needs to be more detailed. First, I think it depends on where you are located. We fly out of San Francisco, and sale prices for high or shoulder seasons are very rare. It's not just a matter of adjusting east coast prices. Secondly, one needs to scrutinize the routes carefully. I have just been researching flights to Istanbul, and one airline was offering a 32 and a half hour trip, which included three flights, a six hour layover in one airport and seven in another. Brutal! (Bought tickets for a 15 and a half hour trip, one layover of 90 minutes). If you're young and have lots of time, it might be worth it to you to save $100-200. But you should know that that's what might be on offer. Then, there's always the possibility that you'll bet wrong; and the prices will go up not down.

Posted by
934 posts

To me buying airline tickets is like buying a car.I buy when the price seems right to me and then I dont look back.I really dont want to know at this point whether I paid too much.

Posted by
310 posts

I've booked several times on price alerts and always in the 60 - 90 day window before traveling. Got one today showing a price drop to Frankfurt for August. Since most of the folks responding seem to be flying from the west, I wonder if we don't get better price drops (of course I know prices from the east coast are lower because of the distance flown. I'm saying reductions in prices) here on the east coast. I know we see major reductions from Boston or New York that we don't get from to Charlotte or Raleigh.

Posted by
2788 posts

I, like Lola and keri, fly from Seattle to Europe every summer and always buy my tickets early whenever the price is right to me. The prices out of Seattle have never gone down in my checking in the last 10 years. I have flown NWA, SAS, and now AF. I do want non-stop flights so pay more than having a stopover in the US. Happy travels aloha charlie