When is the best time to book airfare?

Old Apr 30th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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When is the best time to book airfare?

We are flying to Germany in August and would like to know when everyone would expect to be the best time to book the airfare?

Any expectations on whether prices will go up or down? We will be flying from Denver to Frankfurt.

Thanks for all of your help!
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Hi ck,

Now is the time to start checking airfares.

Prices have been fairly high this year, because of fuel costs.

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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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One of the talking heads on TV recently said that the best time to look for air fares is right after midnight because that is when unbooked reservations expire.

Prices go up on high demand and down on low demand. Have you checked with any consolidators? My experience is that you can save 25% or more of the price quoted by the airlines.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:14 AM
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The honest truth is nobody knows for certain when the "best" airfares will become available. If they did, nopbody would probably book at any other time.

I think a better question would be from which source would you get the "best" airfare.

If you haven't checked using a combination of aggregator and consolidator sites such as checking with www.mobissimo.com, www.itasoftware.com, www.Onetravel.com, and www.kayak.com rather than relying only on sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, CheapTickets, etc., I think you may have done yourself a disservice.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:37 AM
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"The honest truth is nobody knows for certain when the "best" airfares will become available. If they did, nopbody would probably book at any other time."

This is untrue. Ther best time to book airfares is almost always in January. Airline make a push to fill up seats for the summer.

" My experience is that you can save 25% or more of the price quoted by the airlines."

I've looked for years and never found a a better deal on a consolidator, travelocity, etc. than I did from a the airline directly. Never.


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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:02 AM
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>The best time to book airfares is almost always in January.<

Hmmmm. For my Sept, 2005 visit to France, I checked airfares from January 2004 to January 2005.

The lowest fares were in June.

This year, the fares seem to be rising.

>I've looked for years and never found a a better deal on a consolidator, travelocity, etc. than I did from a the airline directly. Never.<

That might be because of access to a highly competitive hub. Flights out of ATL to Europe are always cheaper through consolidators.

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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:35 AM
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You need to check different times and different sources. But for travel in August of this year I'd get going on it.

I booked my July 2004 tickets in January that year but continuted to watch them and they did go down, by about 20% over what I paid (although in that case it was a "free" ticket wiht a $1000 ceiling which I was under so I didn't care). The lowest was in March and then they quickly went back up to more than I had paid. I bought my tickets for this July in March this year and they have been more than that since then. So in my case two years in a row, March was the best time.

I always check Orbitz, etc plus the airlines directly and MORE of the time it seems the consolidators have the better deals (sometimes by quite a lot) but not always. For this summer's trip I booked diretly with the airline.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:58 AM
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I travel quite a bit for business and pleasure and there's been many ocassions when a web consolidator have offered me a fare that the airline could not match (I live in the Northeast USA, this might be different for other regions, who knows). I do agree that if the fare price is close, I much rather buy directly from the airline. The many ocassions I have gone with cheaptickets, expedia, travelocity, priceline, TISS is being exclusively because the airline could not match.

I agree that the best deals for you should had shown closer to the first quarter of the year. In January there is a period when airline "scan" the horizon to get a feel for the summer season and usually rates are lower, including consolidator's. Another such survey might come up in March. With fuel prices, it is doubtful you'll find a bargain for August travel, as a matter of fact, the trend is going in the oposite direction, including fewer flights to overseas destination.

I strongly advise you to look into go-today.com. Somehow, they always manage to secure good flights, good prices, and it is a good, reputable webtravel services company. Also, try flying to London, etc... and then connecting with an intraEurope airline. We are flying to Stockholm from Helsinki for $75/pp. Not a bad deal considering the $189/pp that we knocked off the main ticket from the USA, if we had included that leg.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 06:17 AM
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I don't agree with the above advice that the best airfares are available in January.

For our June trip to France, I started shopping in January. Fares were in the $1100-$1200 range. Finally, in early March, they dropped to $555 inclusive. I bought our tickets and two days later they went up again. So perhaps there was some sort of a sale, or fluke. I keep checking our dates and route and have ocassionally seen the fare drop to the $800-$900 range since March.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:13 AM
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I don't have enough experience or knowledge to give an answer with authority. Fares fluctuate by season, with fuel prices, and by demand.

My advice FWIW, is to start looking as soon as possible, to get an idea of an average or expected price is. Book when price is comfortable for YOU.

Airfare is still a fairly small part of a 10 day trip to europe, so at some point, it doesn't make sense to worry about the getting the absolute best possible price.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:53 AM
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Based on a limited sample of people we chatted with recently in the UK, Turkey and on a big boat named after a dead queen, the issue this year is that the planes are very full of bargain-seeking Euros returning home from, or coming over to, extremely affordable holidays in the US, given the strength of the Euro/Pound/etc v. the poor Duller. Add escalating fuel costs to the airlines, lousy second quarter earnings reports, testy bankruptcy judges, and the fact that August is the peak of peaks for European summer holidays, and I would buy something ASAP and move on to worrying about where to sleep for less than €150 a night. As the previous poster says, the portion of the vacation cost absorbed by the airline fare looks pitiful when compared to accommodation, intra-Europe transportation, and food for a 2- or 3-week holiday.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Try to look at the airlines websites as well. Sometimes they offer better rates than expedia or travelocity. I booked my tickets from JFK to Lisbon, and back from Barcelona to JFK thru Iberia for $630.00 including taxes for a trip beginning of September. Everywhere else I was getting quotes of $900 to $1,000
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Old May 1st, 2005, 10:45 AM
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What I usually do is first narrow down the flight options using Travelocity or Expedia. Then I go to the airlines site and get a price on the exact flight (departure & arrival) I had found on Travelocity or Expedia. I have found 9 times out of 10 they are cheaper on the airlines own site.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:39 AM
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It is NOT true that the airline website will offer the cheaper fare. I can site you a specific example although it is not for a flight to Europe (it's to Mexico). Also, we bought our tickets 8 months in advance of our May trip to France/Italy and I have watched the fares every day since then and they have not gone lower - even in January.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:49 PM
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Several of you mentioned looking for airfare through consolidators. Are there any in particular that you've had good luck with or would advice using or not using?
Thanks!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Unlike Elle and much like Donnie, I don't believe myself an authority to make statements based on one year-one event-one experience. Since I have bought plenty tickets in January to Europe for Spring/summer/fall travel, I still stand by my own experience of checking during January for departures, if that is her/his situation. Please notice the Northeast gateway comment, who knows, it seems it does make a difference.....
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:48 PM
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I haven't checked recently for airfare to Europe but in the past checking after midnight on the airlines websites will sometimes show lower airfares (believe it is after midnight Eastern time). Usually it was on Tuesday or Wednesday. I agree with others here. It does not seem that the airfares are the highest cost of traveling to Europe.

Also, if there is an airline that you have FF miles with do sign up for their email alerts for special fares.

I certainly am no position to know whether fares would go down or not but I would not think so, especially as you are talking about August and considering the price of gasoline. But good luck to you.

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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:54 PM
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Although I cited just one experience with this, we fly to France every spring/summer. We usually buy our tickets in March, although twice we bought them in February.

The worst deal we've ever had was when we booked in January with American; fortunately, US Airways had a sale in April and I was able to cancel the American tickets and rebook for more than $100 less per person on US Airways.

It's all a gamble, though. If you don't have the patience to obsessively check consolidator, aggregator, and airline sites every day, I recommend at least using the Orbitz fare watcher tool and checking in every day to track that day's best offer.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:17 PM
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In 40 years of flight travel, we've found the most likely time period for the best fares to be 2 to 3 months before our trip. It doesn't always work out that way because of all the variables involved, but it has proven to be the best "rule of thumb" for us.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:59 PM
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go to www.clarkhoward.com to sign up for weekly airfare email deals. Most are out of Atlanta, but there are usually similar deals available from other airports. I have found that the absolute best deals are from the airline itself--not orbitz, travelocity, or even from the ITA program. Have made reservations as long as 5 months in advance, but the key is knowing the HISTORICAL trends of airfares. Even when fuel prices are higher and push the numbers higher, the basic graph of highs and lows seems to be followed from one year to the next. There is a website that shows historical flight prices but I can't remember url and am not at own computer now---typing this from Tokyo hotel, tickets bought 1 week before departure from airline that had about five seats left on a $438 price to new airport in Japan at Nagoya. (Checking in to get answer from asia board about a specific shopping mall--answered perfectly this board is like magic for travelers!--couldn't resist a peek in at this board.)
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