When to book September flight to UK

Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 07:17 AM
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When to book September flight to UK

We have a September hiking trip booked in England and are flying into Manchester. I've had both doses of the COVID vaccine. I'm torn between booking a flight now versus waiting until I'm more certain that we will actually be able to go. We had to cancel June twice already; last year and again this year.

I'm sure prices will go up once demand is there again, so I'm leaning towards booking now. Are airlines still offering to waive cancellation or change fees? If so, which ones? If the UK still has a quarantine requirement, I will have to reschedule this trip yet again so don't want to have to pay change fees if I can avoid it.

I know nothing is certain about this, just interested in any advice.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 01:57 PM
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"I'm sure prices will go up once demand is there again,"

I wouldn't book now (and this is from someone who actually has flights booked into London and back in early July - so take it for what its worth)

I booked mostly with miles so I wanted to lock it in before reward seats were gone and am fully aware I'll probably have to cancel. But for flights in Sept I'd wait at least 2 or 3 more months and probably even longer. Any schedules more than a month in the future are merely place holders. Even the airlines don't have anu ideas where/when they'll be flying 8 or 9 months from now. There are currently schedule changes and cancellations every day. A major schedule change or cancellation would get you a full refund - but why tie your money up. There is no reason to think fares will go up . . . or down for that matter. One thing that might make a difference -- are you thinking of flying up front in FC or Business - or at the back of the bus? Because economy/coach seats will likely be more in demand because it is assumed leisure/family travel will recover sooner. But premium cabins are predominately business travelers and it is thought that will take months/years longer to recover.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 02:12 PM
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The only reason I'd book now is if I found an astonishingly low price and don't mind changing flights as flight schedules adjust. If you're flexible to a degree & can live with uncertainly as far as an exact itinerary is concerned it might be an interesting exercise.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 03:44 PM
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I think both JanisJ and MmePerdu make good points. That said, I heard on the news that it might be better to book sooner rather than later, because people have been stuck at home for so long they want to get out and do more luxurious and longer travel (all the money saved from staying home, I guess, means more money to book those better airplane seats and nice hotel rooms you used to dream about). Well, I guess that is true for some people who still have a steady income, but not for others.

Anyway, I'm looking at the costs of flights into LHR in October . . . business class (because I do have a steady income and roll over of vacation time I couldn't take last year I have to take this year). So far I've seen some pretty good deals and not so good deals. If things fall through, I don't mind banking the flights. I also just had my second shot, and DH will get his Weds. So we'll be ready to rock!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 03:52 PM
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We booked for Paris in Nov already. Delta was who we picked based on the cancellation policy.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 09:03 PM
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Lots of good advice here. Janisj and MmePerdu, I should have said that I always go economy...no travel mileage programs anymore. So those seats might go faster. However, I don't want to deal with schedule changes as I do need to get to the house I will be staying in for the start of the walking/hiking week. Guess I should wait for awhile based on your comments that the airlines don't really know their schedules right now. I'm not worried so much about tying up money, as I do need to get there. The schedule changes are the most worrying so that's great to know from you that airlines are still figuring out what they are going to do in the coming months.

Surfergirl, I also heard that demand might spike as people have been cooped up so long! And Macross, thanks for the advice about Delta. A good cancellation policy is also important right now.

I was one of the lucky ones who got actual refunds on my flights for the June 2019 trip...most people only got vouchers for future travel.

thanks to you all.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 09:29 PM
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Note: Delta does not have any better or worse cancellation policy than any other major airline. Doesn't matter is you fly AA or DL or UA or BA , etc. They all have instituted extremely generous refund policies. Re vouchers - in general if airline cancels a flight or has a significant schedule change one is eligible for a full refund. If the passenger cancels independently (before a flight is cancelled) then an FTV (Future Travel Voucher) is the result.

Another thing to think about is Jet Blue is due to start flying transatlantic sometime this year. They are still waiting for slots at LHR or LGW so no start date / schedule yet. But they will be a real game changer both fare and 'connectability-wise' and will likely trigger a bit of a price war. They will be a partner with AA so will open up a lot of markets. Watch for news about JetBlue starting up.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2021, 05:50 AM
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We felt like Delta ticked more boxes on their policy. We were very impressed with AirFrance refunds this year. Virgin took 6 months. I also have a lot of Delta and Jet Blue points to use plus Jet Blue credits but haven't heard anything about concrete plans to fly to London. I have been waiting. We got basic couch seats but hoping to use points to move up a bit. They also had the best connection times but really feel all flight times will change before Nov. There aren't many daily flights from my city right now so am waiting a bit to upgrade.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2021, 08:19 PM
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janisj - interesting news about JetBlue. Do you think they will fly into Manchester as well as LHR or LGW? Thanks.

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Old Feb 23rd, 2021, 10:37 PM
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No plans that I know of for Manchester -- but MAN is just an hour's flight from LHR so wouldn't be much of a hassle if it saved $$.

But like I said -- the announcement of start date and schedules seems to still be up in the air. They were originally hoping to start in the 4th qtr of 2020 but because of everything that happened in the last year it could be several more months.

Other airlines service into MAN is currently greatly reduced. And even into LHR traffic is a teensy fraction of 'normal'. T-3 and T-4 have both been completely shut down. AA service has been moved from T-3 into T-5 with BA. And Delta from T-4 to T-2 with a whole slew of other airlines.. The closures were supposed to be temporary but very likely could last all the way through this year.
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