Best Time to Buy II: The Domestic Question

Jan 30th, 2014, 12:51 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
Best Time to Buy II: The Domestic Question

I'm sure this comes up many times over the year, but I'm going to ask anyway:

Early August travel, LA-area coastal airports only, travel to either Boston Logan (BOS) or Providence, RI (PVD)-- we're going to Cape Cod for family and fun. In your informed opinions, when should I start shopping in earnest for my seats? The airlines themselves seem to run specials going out three months, more or less; does that mean that I should wait until May?

Also: I have enough FF miles on American for one coach ticket. Do you think that there will be any FF seats left if I wait until May? It seems that the rules governing FF seats are quite arbitrary, so I'm not counting on this option. We're NOT adverse to red-eyes, since JetBlue has a non-stop LGB-BOS that would suit us pretty well, if need be.

I just don't fly as much as I used to, so your insight will be much more up-to-date than anything I can come up with. Thanks in advance!
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Jan 30th, 2014, 04:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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In my experience there is little discernible pattern to the rises and falls in flight prices. My approach is to begin shopping for tickets as soon as I have a trip planned. I watch prices and buy when the price is good enough for me. My experience is that I can often find good prices about 10 months out from departure. I know that is contrary to popular opinion, but that is my experience, particularly in regard to buying tickets to Hawaii.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 30th, 2014, 05:40 PM
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I would explore the possibility of flying on Southwest. If the price goes down, you can rebook and get a credit for the difference. There are no change fees. SO, if you buy for $200 now and it goes down to $150, you get a $50 credit.

IF you go with Southwest, sign up for DING! and also for emails to let you know when they have sales.
DebitNM is offline  
Jan 31st, 2014, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I don't think waiting is going to hurt much if at all, I just wouldn't get my expectations too high about the size of any possible savings. In looking at prices today vs. 3 months from now vs. August, I'm seeing a spread of $50-$75 or less on nonstop routes to BOS from LAX or on jetBlue's nonstop from LGB (usually a little less on one-stop services from LAX or SNA.) That's within the realm of possible hotel or rental car savings, or having a good meal out vs. wienies on the beach.

I seldom think FF miles redemption is good value for domestic coach flights. 25,000 AA miles for a ticket costing $320 to buy means each mile is worth less than 1.5c. I'd recommend saving them for a flight where the value per mile is at least 3c. (You need to appreciate that you paid for those miles in some manner - credit card merchant markups, annual credit card fees, etc.)

As to FF availability if you wait, it's a crapshoot. Airlines use very complex yield management algorithms to set prices and to release seats into award inventory. It changes literally daily, sometimes hourly. If your trip falls into late August when thousands of college students are heading to Boston, it might be bad; or in early August you might have trouble with BOS-LA as people flee the heat and humidity. No real way to tell. Right now there isn't a lot of inventory in the second half of August from LAX to BOS, but quite a lot coming back (but little to LAX in early August.) This will change as the flight dates approach and as the computers get a better handle on sales trends.

So I don't think you're likely to be hurt by waiting a while, but don't expect miracles.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 31st, 2014, 10:00 AM
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I checked on Kayak yesterday evening and got a non-refundable coach fare of $346 per person round-trip LAX-BOS, both ways non-stop, on American. I had planned on $400-500 per person, so even with a $25 checked-bag charge each way, we're coming out WAY ahead (especially since we're only going to check ONE bag).

That was looking like a great deal, even this far away from the travel dates, so I grabbed them.

Surprisingly, Southwest was coming up considerably more expensive, so I finally abandoned the search there. The fact that their iPhone app's DING! utility STILL doesn't work made me give up on trying to find deals. Sorry, I wasn't feeling the LUV from that airline....

The take-away: Look as often as you can, get a price in mind, if you see a fare that beats it, TAKE IT. Thanks to everyone who responded!!
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Apr 17th, 2014, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Nov 2013
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My rule is that if I see a price below $350 from Coast to Coast, I jump on it! I don't really think there's any rhyme or reason to how the prices move . . . just keep on waiting for the right pitch.

I always save my FF miles for Europe - so much more romantic
Bostonblondie226 is offline  

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