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Opinions on when to buy airline tickets...

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My dilemma is that I know I'm taking my family to Disney World in 99. I do know the dates and I have made my accomodation reservations. You can always get the deposits refunded if something happens. However, the airlines are telling me I should book my airline tickets now as the low fares are going fast. I hate to book them so far in advance (we're talking almost a year in advance). I would hate to get locked into a ticket that I cannot get a refund on and also to give them the money so far in advance. Are they telling me the truth, do airlines really sell out almost a year in advance? What do you think I should do? I'd love to hear the opinions of some seasoned travellers out there. The other problem is that I do have some limitations because I am travelling with children and we do need non stop flights and seats together. Thanks for your opinions in advance.

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    Let me give you some advice as a travel agent. First off, do you have a good travel agent? If one of my clients is planning a trip, they give me the dates and I kkep an eye on the fares for them. Of course the airlines want you to book now - then they have your money for almost a year and you are stuck with the tickets if something happens and you can't go. They are good to re-use within a year from the date they are run for anywhere the airline flies for an exchange fee of up to $75.00 per ticket plus any increase in fare. So, find a travel agent you like, give him/her your dates and call them on a regular basis to re-check. Don't let the airlines pressure you. Also with a travel agent - they can look at all the airlines at once, whereas you have to call each one individually, sit on hold, etc, etc. AND they may not give you the best price available.

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    We have booked a year in advance for Carribean trips. I like to fly USair and then a use Travelocity's Air Fare watch which send messages when there is a change in price. Two years in a row there were decreases on a trip to Chicago. USair will give you a credit voucher for the difference to use on your next flight. This year it was a $61 decrease and there were 2 of us flying. You have to use the voucher within a year which is easy for me but hard for my companion except we usually go to Chicago same time each year for a convention. The bad part is you have to go to the airport when you use your voucher to buy tickets. It's not too far for me to go so it's not too bad. I hope you can find a good travel agent. They have been fine when planning vacations were they handle all the details but they don't seem to be very interested when there is just plane tickets involved. But of course, there isn't very much commission on just plane tickets. I would probably use an agent for a Disney vacation. We have had to re-book a flight and paid the $75 fee which was fine by me. Our son didn't know his exact return dates so we booked the best we could. We knew that he would have very little notice on his return date and it was cheaper to do that then to wait until he found out the exact dates. Fares are cheaper when bought at least 21 days ahead. Other airlines might not have the same policies. Good luck.

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    Hi. Delta has the same rules as above.(USAIR?)I found with them, that a nonstop flight was cheaper than ones with a layover. I don't know why. Maybe it is the time of the morning we are going. I purchases my tickets in
    Dec. for this Oct. You bet I have been looking at the prices every so often to see if I can get money off my next flight. No such luck so far,though.
    Also, watch out for the travel agencies that charge you a ticketing fee. There are three of us traveling. It would of cost us $15 more to go thru them along with a 40 mile drive thru city traffic. We plan to us the $15 at the airport for breakfast. There was no fee for mailing the tickets directly to our house at the time. Always ask. Delta was also very friendly when it came to givng us info, like no peanut sevice because people are allergic.(pretzels and fruit bars would be served, though.)

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    Since we fly from the West Coast to East Coast or Europe we do book well ahead because we want specific seats on specific airplanes. But all of the above advice sounds good. Pretzels instead of peanuts---I understand the allergy thing, but pretzels make you so very thirsty up there! SWA offers raisins as subs to children. What could they substitute that wouldn't be so salty and still would taste good with a drink? Might be a good subject for an individual topic here!!

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    As an actual airline employee, I'm gonna be total honest with you. It is always good to check the airfares as soon as you know you want to go. Depending on what city your in it can be quite difficult to find non-stop flights. Although Delta just introduced Delta Express last year based out of Orlando to compete with the other low-cost carier, SouthWorst and Air-Tran, and US-Air just announced their low cost carier Metro-Jet. so it may not be that difficult for you to find a non-stop flight. The comment made earlier about taking a non-stop being cheaper than a connection may not always be truee so check out both. The availability on the flights for each fare is limited and may sell out fast and not be available on some flights. Usually leaving EARLY in the morning or LATE in the evening you can find the best fares. Most economical fares require you to book atleast 21 days advance with a Saturday night stay and travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you do go with a lost cost carier such as Metro Jet or Delta Express the change fee is not $75.00 it would only be $50.00 plus diffrence in fare if it did change, so that may not be all that bad. Another good point mentioed earlier is that it's always good to call the airlines periodicaly to see if your ticket price has dropped to receive the voucher, because they sure aren't gonna call you. If your which just recently started up non-stop service then I would suggest waiting a little bit maybe the airfare will drop, but then again the availabiltiy would become less and less. It's really a 50/50 chance you take when buying and airline ticket. If you have any questions let me know I'll be happy to explain myself a little better if you didn't quite understand any of this. Have fun in Disney and say Hello to Mickey for me!!

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    Have your travel agent look into a package deal. You know, one with air, hotel, car, etc. If you see a decent price, put down a deposit. Also, be sure to get travel insurance, at our agency, we always recommend insurance. Especially, when you are booking a trip that is in the future a few months. Myself, I recommend it to every client. I'm not promoting any certain product, but we have used CSA Travel Insurance and Assistance Services. They are a great deal more than just travel insurance. They have very reasonable prices, also.
    Since my agency deals mainly with cruises, tours and resorts; we rarely do any air related business. The comissions cuts and caps have really hurt the travel agent family, and if you have a good agent, be kind to them as you would be kind to other professional who may charge a service fee. A lot of my friends in the business would rather not charge a fee, most of us got into this business to be of help and assist other travelers, and do a little traveling of our own. If you haven't used an agent for your air yet, give Cheap Tickets a try. They are an air consolidator and their # is 1-800-377-1000. Give Mickey and the gang a big hello from all the other Mousekeeters.

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