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Old 06-13-2014, 10:43 AM
 
Location: Colorado
2,483 posts, read 3,536,154 times
Reputation: 2674

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Go to a discount travel website (I like kayak, but there are others). Enter your preferred travel info, sign up to watch the fares and when the buy confidence gets to 60-70 % or higher, buy! It's not foolproof, but your odds are pretty good of getting a decent fare that way. I've overpaid a bit for some and gotten others dirt cheap but it's averaged out to some pretty good prices over the years.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,070 posts, read 19,008,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by otterprods View Post
Go to a discount travel website (I like kayak, but there are others). Enter your preferred travel info, sign up to watch the fares and when the buy confidence gets to 60-70 % or higher, buy! It's not foolproof, but your odds are pretty good of getting a decent fare that way. I've overpaid a bit for some and gotten others dirt cheap but it's averaged out to some pretty good prices over the years.
Good advice, but don't forget that SW does not appear on any of these search sites, including Kayak.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Florida
3,241 posts, read 4,575,688 times
Reputation: 9696
Buying plane tickets is incredibly frustrating. Last week, I ended up buying a one way ticket for the wife from Chicago to El Paso for $148. Arrival is on a Tuesday so I think it may have something to do with it. It wasn't a direct flight, there is one stop in Dallas.

One thing that does seem to be somewhat predictable is the timing. When kids are off school for the summer, prices seem to be high. I would assume that you could attest that to demand and fuel costing more over the summer. Thanksgiving to New Years also seems to be expensive.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:20 AM
 
5,911 posts, read 6,714,947 times
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Trying to pick the "sweet spot" is very tricky. Generally speaking, the earlier you buy the tickets (as long as you are paying attention and don't just jump on ANY fare) the better off you will be. Flights these days are generally quite full. Airlines know this, so they start with a 'few' aggressive fares, and let it fill up at its own pace from there. Sure, the day of the flight and there are ten seats, you might get a deal. But more likely, you will get left behind!

The problem with playing games with "false" bookings is that the airlines now know you are a buyer. They don't know exactly when, although I am sure their algorithms know, on average, how far ahead people are generally looking (it is pretty easy to model human behavior), but they know you are a buyer....and they adjust their fares, literally, right at that moment. I might log on 30 minutes later, have never searched the flight before, and get a better deal.

Don't be too cute. Find a fare you can live with. Book it. And forget about it. On the plane there will be people who paid less, and people who paid more.

That's life with the airlines these days.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Colorado
2,483 posts, read 3,536,154 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
Good advice, but don't forget that SW does not appear on any of these search sites, including Kayak.
Yeah I forgot about that, it housed to not be like that… But I consider it a benefit if it means I never have to fly southwest! But they are often the cheapest by a little bit. So if you really want the lowest fare, when you find something you like the way I suggested, do a quick comparison at southwest to see if it's better.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
1,254 posts, read 1,306,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
Whenever you book, fly in at least the day BEFORE the cruise departs. You do not want to fly in the day of.

Set up an alert on Airfarewatchdog.com for SLC-Ft.Lauderdale. That is the ONLY online alert system that includes Southwest Airlines. When they send you a price that works for you, book it. Quickly.

Consider flying into Miami if the cost difference is significant. It's an easy transfer by shuttle to the Ft. Lauderdale port.
In the winter, or during hurricane season, I would even depart 2 days before sailing. No need to get your blood pressure up worring about snowstorms.

Even in the smonths where there is no chance of snow, I would still probably plan to arrive 2 days before sailing.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:42 PM
 
Location: North Phoenix/Moon Valley
993 posts, read 2,553,768 times
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I fly Southwest almost exclusively for the main reason that I ALWAYS have at least one checked bag. They are one of the only ones who don't charge a bag fee for up to 2 bags which can tack on another $100+. So if you are going on a cruise I will assume you are going to have checked bags. This is a consideration on which airline you use.

Here's a more recent article about the best timing for ticket buying:

The Best Time To Book A Plane Ticket, According To New Study

It is the same info that JennyMom posted in her article - 54 days.

I also subscribe to Airfarewatchdog.com because they are the only one that sends me updates on fares with Southwest. It seems they actually have people instead of computers doing the work and then posting the info for consumers.
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,070 posts, read 19,008,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalys View Post

I also subscribe to Airfarewatchdog.com because they are the only one that sends me updates on fares with Southwest. It seems they actually have people instead of computers doing the work and then posting the info for consumers.
They do have people searching as well as engines. I know because I had a telephone interview with them once.

As far as checked bags, I believe Jet Blue also allows one checked bag. Here's a nice chart.

But don't make the assumption that they HAVE to check bags. We have gone for a month in Europe, 3 weeks of it on a cruise, and only had carry on. I refuse to check bags on the outbound flight anymore. Not worth the risk or stress. (Lose a bag once and you'll agree with me.)
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Limbo
6,475 posts, read 6,185,204 times
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It depends on many things. Tickets could be at their cheapest two days from departure, but no one with advanced knowledge of vacation will wait until the last minute.

Fare classes and prices run on complex algorithms.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:10 PM
 
Location: Chicago W Suburbs
487 posts, read 587,292 times
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We've gone on a number of cruises from Ft. Lauderdale and the airlines know which times of day are desire able for cruisers. Their fares tend to reflect this. If your schedule allows you to fly down a day early and/or fly back a day later, you may do better as well.
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