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To buy now (plane tickets) or later?...

We’ve been monitoring prices for nonstop flights we’ll be taking to Europe on KLM/Air France (mid Sept to mid Oct). Prices have been rock steady for many weeks. The agonizing dilemma - Should we bite the bullet and buy now, or gamble on prices dropping in the days/weeks to come? Our crystal ball appears to be broken! Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted by
6878 posts

My advice is to really broaden your search if you are concerned about price - right now, you're looking very narrowly. Look at comparative sites across all airlines that fly between your home and destination airports, and include flights with stops in that search (up to the number of stops you're willing to tolerate). If you're also flexible about exact dates/times, that will only help as well. I would only buy a ticket if I can comfortably afford it and not feel bad about it. That's a different price point for everyone. Good luck!

Posted by
2576 posts

If you are talking about 2019 it is unlikely, although not impossible, that fares will drop between now and then. And, if choosing seats is important another reason for buying sooner than later. As Agnes said, the more options you have the better the opportunity for saving some money. Having said that, and this from an experienced traveler, sometimes the savings are really not worth it in real life. We just returned from Italy and we flew from our local airport (Sacramento) rather than going to San Francisco or Oakland as we got a “good deal” on Delta. The Comfort Plus seats were fine enough but a looong layover outbound in Atlanta and a scramble to make our connection there coming home. Next time back to direct to Europe from the Bay Area and connecting overseas. For us we now know its worth paying a little more (including getting to SFO.)

Posted by
119 posts

I'ts unlikely that prices will fall between now and September unless you change the options. Buy the tickets now! Make a commitment that you are going to Europe this fall and have tickets to prove it. Then its very important that you never ever ever check on the prices on this route again!
Good Luck and I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
745 posts

Help us out a little....."nonstop Europe on KLM/Air France (mid Sept to mid Oct)".....

Where are you going, where do you hope to fly from, why KLM/Air France?

The more we know, the more we can help.

Posted by
4718 posts

A perfect example of your dilemma (although the caveat is that the flights were during school holiday period) is myself and two other families decided to travel to the same resort in Mallorca during the May half term just gone. It's a place we've been to many times and I know to book flights well in advance as it's a busy period and a popular place. I booked the flights in November, told my friends, one of whom booked the same flight straight away whilst the other mocked me for booking so far in advance and that he was going to wait nearer the time for prices to drop, my response was that flights during school holidays only ever increase. The result? He had to leave a day earlier than us because the cost of the same return flight was an extra £900 (family of four) when he eventually got round to booking it.

My experience has been that, yes, sometimes flights do reduce in price closer to the travel date however this is becoming less and less common. It's been a long time since I can recall a flight that hasn't been completely or almost full. Bear in mind also that there are school holidays in October and if you're travelling on with a European carrier within Europe this may have an impact on flight prices.

My now and don't be tempted to check prices once done.

Posted by
2148 posts

You say your crystal ball is broken so that means you have an idea of what is an acceptable price. So decide how you would feel if prices went up. I say buy now. I had been checking flights & prices for flights to Venice and home from Florence for a while and the prices never went below about $1,800 or 1,900. So, yesterday I checked with Delta on how many miles it would cost and I purchased my flights with miles, 88,000. That may seem like a lot to others but to me, I decided that was the price I was willing to pay. I usually expect prices to increase especially with airfares. I have been lucky and purchased flights when they were on sale but I don't count on it! That is my risk-averse side.

Posted by
437 posts

Just about 2 week ago I bought tickets for April next year on Turkish Airlines: Boston-Istanbul-Budapest-Boston that cost $844.00.
On that same day when I was looking at the route/fare it was $800.00. By the time I got home and decided to book it had increased by $44.00. My way of buying tickets is to decide on the amount I want to pay then try to go lower than that if possible.

We will have to get tickets from Orlando to Boston but that should cost about $300.00 return.
In spring time and two countries I think $1200 or lower is reasonable for Europe.
I don't think it is ever really too early to buy a ticket if you find a price that fits your budget. Just remember not to go back and check after you've bought it :-)

Good luck with your fare search.

Posted by
6878 posts

When people say not to check prices after buying, that's an admission that patience can pay off. I don't see anything wrong with checking later if you don't beat yourself up over it. I see it as a learning opportunity, and it's trained me to make better decisions (mostly less impulsive decisions based on the fear of losing out, which is a huge blind spot all people have). It's odd that people can authoritatively say prices will not come down in the future when both possibilities (going up or down) can and do occur, sometimes even daily. I don't know of any major airline that doesn't have some sort of Fall sale (for large markets), for example, but you do need to find out about it and act fast sometimes. If prices don't come down at your preferred alternative and you're at your limit, then it's time to reframe the search and become more flexible so you can meet your budget. It's all a tradeoff, and there are a myriad of combinations to make it work.

Posted by
8848 posts

If you are planning travel for this Fall, as presumably you are as prices for Fall 2020 would not be published yet, it is theoretically* possible they might go down, but as a practical matter, you are probably more likely to be in an auto accident.

When you were looking at prices, did you look at the seating maps to see how full the plane(s) are? That could be some indicator of which way ( or if) prices may change

Posted by
2149 posts

In my experience , there's just not as much competition among nonstop flights, as there aren't as many as one and two-stop flights. Usually the nonstops increase in price the closer you get.

That being said, we just bought nonstops from the west coast into Zurich and out of Frankfurt [for Christmas markets ] for one of the lowest Business Class fares I've seen in a long time. Go figure, there's no logic to any of this.

I'm assuming you set up a tracker on Google Flights, as prices can change throughout the day.

Good luck and stay sane. Safe travels!

Posted by
6472 posts

It's a crap shoot. Always has been.

Are you a gambler?

If yes then wait and pray.

If not then book and be done with it.

That way you know you are committed to your travel and can budget accordingly.

Crystal balls, sooth sayers, et al are bunk.

Posted by
5697 posts

Looking back on Tripit, I found I purchased SFO-CDG in 2016 in late June for September at $1276 for two -- but that was a flash sale and a flash decision when I saw the price. Do you get Scott's Cheap Flights emails about sale fares ?
Something like this might happen this year, but since you have specific dates in mind it would be chancy. And the sale prices this year are generally Basic Economy (Economy- Minus) so you have to add in the cost of any checked bags, seat reservations.

Posted by
8507 posts

If it's a direct flight on AF or KLM, you must be in a fairly competitive market. But those two don't budge much--and you will have to pay extra to choose your seats. We bought our September Tix in February. The price has changed little. We're going back again in November, and that price is already 40% less than the September price.

Also, with 10,000 Boomers a day qualifying for Social Security, the September Silver-haired travel season is in full force. It's also high season for trade fares in Europe, so be sure you have lodging secured in any city you're visiting.

Posted by
2149 posts

What did you decide to do?
Safe travels!

Posted by
12 posts

We pulled the trigger last weekend. Our many Flying Blue miles helped us get a great deal. No regrets, and no more checking on airfares! Thanks again for the inputs.