Flight-shopping advice?

Old Mar 1st, 2011, 08:25 PM
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Flight-shopping advice?

I need to book 2 tickets from San Francisco to Paris, returning from London to San Francisco. I am trying to figure out whether to buy the tickets now, or if the rates are likely to get any better--I'd love strategy advice.
The details: I need a flight leaving June 14, returning around July 25. Last week the best deal I found was $1313, but with too short a layover; or $1426 more reasonably. This week the fares (looking on a Tuesday) are $1478.
Do I need to jump on this before the rates get worse? Or is it foolish not to wait til they drop?
Thanks for your voice of experience!!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 05:06 AM
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It has been my experience that the closer to the travel date, the higher the cost.

Are you checking with kayak or similar?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 05:15 AM
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Yes, Kayak.
But since It's Open Jaw I can't get alerts. The fares RT to London are significantly better, but there's not a cheap quick way to get from London to Paris, is there? The timing is such that we can't give up the first day there to travel.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 05:48 AM
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Can other posters help here? Would the train be as fast from London to Paris as a flight? I daresay you will give up the first day to travel since you are coming from CA.

Ryan air?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 05:58 AM
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The Eurostar is a cheap and fast option to get from Paris to London. In fact, it is faster than the plane, since it does not require getting out of the city to the airports, long lines, etc.. Central Paris to central London.

There is talk that fuel prices (which went up at the pump last night for me) will continue to rise due to Middle East. If you can live with the price, buy now.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 09:30 AM
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The fare to London would have to be a whole lot cheaper to make that worthwhile, unless you don't value your time at all. So what does signifiant mean? If it's only a couple hundred dollars, that wouldn't make it a good option. If it is $500+ cheaper, maybe.

I wouldn't panic myself at this point as fares often go up and down a little bit within a few days this far in advance. If you wait and keep trying, the old fares may come back. But nobody on here is probably an expert in oil futures, so this year may be different than usual a little. Normally, I wouldn't panic this far in advance and would keep trying a bit. today, the cheapest flights seems to be around $1500-1600.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 09:57 AM
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Open jaw flights would generally be cheaper if you could fly INTO London and out of Paris. London adds extra taxes when you leave the country.

Eurostar is a viable cheap option but you MAY have missed the cheapest fares (120 days out from departure is the best time to book).
oneway tickets start at 34 pounds takes about 2.5 hours plus a 30 minute min checkin time.

Check the Eurostar times to determine this but it's quite possible the train will only add an hour or two to your total journey time maybe less if you're lucky but I would be careful of cutting it too fine. Cost wise if you can save $250 on the flight each then I think it's worth it.

Bear in mind the Eurostar train stations are in the centres of London and Paris... so if you arrive/ leave from the airport you that takes additional time.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2011, 10:51 AM
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I'm waiting a bit to buy my summer fare because a.) I'm waiting for my tax return and b.) there haven't been any summer airfare advertisements, sales or no sales. There are advertisements for April airfare and I just saw a United business class sale that starts mid-June. But I haven't seen anything in my time frame of late May and early June.
I'm hoping for a little dip, nothing significant, but I'm preparing my brain to accept $1400. Painful.
Try hipmunk.com for searches, I'm liking the layout. It's the first search I do, then Kayak, then individual airlines.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2011, 09:49 PM
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Yikes, it's scary watching the fares climb everyday. How long do you suggest waiting? I think the political situation in Libya *might* stabilize & eventually effect prices, but maybe by then the "it's closer to summer" mentality will be in full swing, so the rates will stay high?? I know no one has a crystal ball, but educated opinions are welcome!
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Old Mar 4th, 2011, 09:51 AM
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There are hardly any summer airfare sales, at least I haven't seen any for many years. okay, maybe a real blip here and there for some unusual reason, but in gneral, airlines haven't been having "sales" on summer airfares to Europe regularly for a long time. They don't usually advertise fares until a month or two before, it seems to me. So right now you see ads for April-May flights.

I was just checking fares for July RT Paris from Wash DC, and saw a few things around $1200, although most were around $1500. The cheaper ones were through Icelandair and of course, that's a longer flight with a change in Iceland. But for $300, it might be worth it to me (maybe).

The fares go up closer to the date based on sales, that's all. Airlines base their rates on how full the planes are, if they don't sell the seats, they aren't likely to go up a lot. If they are selling them, they tend to go up closer to departure. So it's just a matter of whether their planes are getting full or not.

I wouldn't even want to guess. If I knew I had to fly on those days, this wasn't optional, I'd pay the $1400 if you can still get that. I think things will get worse due to the oil situation myself, that's why. Because that's about what I'd expect the fare to be without the crisis, actually. I know last year fares in June-July were around $1200 RT from where I live, and SFO is a whole lot farther, so $1400 wouldn't have surprised me for that.
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Old Mar 4th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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You could use www.itqasoftware.com and use the month-long view.

I had no idea that adding London drives up open jaw prices or that subtracting Paris drives them down since generally speaking the amount of competition in an airfare market is the big price driver.

Flying to London and then transferring to the Eurostar to "save money"....is the hassle of transferring worth the supposed savings?
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Old Mar 4th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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sorry, that website is www.itasoftware.com
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Old Mar 4th, 2011, 10:52 AM
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I am assuming the advance purchase lower Eurostar fares are non-refundable? if so, don't do it - so many things could delay your arrival and transfer to the train station and then you would have to buy premium priced tickets to get to Paris that day.
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Old Mar 4th, 2011, 10:54 AM
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I have found shopping for airfare is always a gamble, and there are no guarantees. Buy now, you're taking a gamble that it won't go down; wait, and you're gambling it won't go up. Recently, three different families went to PV out of Reno. One booked in November at $509 each; I booked the following day at $519 each; the third party booked mid-December at $579 as the planes were filling up. Two weeks before departure, the fares were at $469 each....

You can sign up for alerts on kayak.com whenever a fare decreases by a certain amount or comes within a certain price range.
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