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Book a great rate NOW and risk change fees later OR WAIT?

Book a great rate NOW and risk change fees later OR WAIT?

Old May 13th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Book a great rate NOW and risk change fees later OR WAIT?

Let me start by saying that I am a big planner. I typically buy my airline tickets (for int'l travel) at least two months in advance. Now, I am being forced to test my patience and go against my natural tendency to book ahead or take risks.

I am planning to fly to Italy in mid to late July for a two-week vacation. The fares look great right now (about $600) but the dates are not yet set due to several reasons. Should I book now and risk having to change my reservations and pay change fees OR do I need to learn to relax and wait until the dates are finalized? My fear is that the airfares will increase so much (to me, that means hitting the $950-1000 price range) that I may not be able to afford to go. Would a month lead time be reasonable? How late have you booked and how do the airfares differ? Is it significant per my definition?

Also, I have reward miles enough to get an int'l roundtrip ticket but not enough miles to have the flexibility with dates. Does it get better or worse if you book closer to the date of travel? My thought process here is that the airline is trying to fill their seats. Lastly, if I use reward miles, do they allow you to fly into one city and out of another?

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Old May 13th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Scenario 1. Book now and change later. You will still have to pay the prevailing fare and the change fee. The fare you book now is irrelevant. What matters is the fare that's avail when you make the change & book final travel dates.

IMO scenario 1 is a non-starter.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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"Do they allow you to fly into one city and out of another?"

It depends on which airline you're flying. I know United does, and American just changed their booking options online to allow passengers to book award tickets in one-way segments so you can do this without calling the reservations number.

As far as your other concerns go, it's a total crap shoot. Fares can change by the hour, let alone days and months, so if you see a price you're happy with and you have some idea of what your dates are going to be, then I say book it. The closer you get to the departure date, the more likely it is that the fare will go up significantly.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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Frankly for the summer I'm seeing more fares going down than up. I put a res on hold yesterday and when I went to pay for it today the price was $10 less. (And this is for a first-class domestic ticket. First time I've ever had that happen.) I think the chances of your ticket price going up by more than the change fee are pretty low, but of course I could be wrong. It would help if you indicated where you're flying from and to, and what airline your miles are with.

As far as open-jaw awards, I know of no airline that doesn't allow them. Just this week, for example, American revamped its entire award system to one-way awards (each at 1/2 the miles needed for a round trip) which will make open-jaws way easy.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Thank you! My rewards are with Continental, flying from LA - Paris but looking into flying LA - Rome then Paris - LA. With rewards, I am subject to their dates of availability so, I am prepared to simply purchase a ticket to get the dates/times I want. We will see.

For change fees, do they charge X amount per leg? Or, is it a bulk charge for changing a flight each WAY? THANKS AGAIN!
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Oh, and yes, I got the notice from AA re updates to their rewards program. I am hoping that the other airlines will catch on and adopt the same policy. Crossing my fingers!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I have been tracking airfares to Europe on Yapta for the past 3 or 4 months. My experience has been that fares hit their lowest about a month before the flight. Of course, that could change as we go into summer.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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The change fee seems to be at least $250 for intl flights and sometimes even more. Every time you make a change you'll have to pay the change fee.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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Thanks so much! Seems like the concensus is to wait. Thanks for the add'l info. I've never booked just a month in advance (and refuse to check prices after purchase) and actually never travelled in the summer so I had no basis for making a decision. Once again, thank you helpful Fodorites!
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Old May 18th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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"conSensus" - oops!
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