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Old 06-13-2014, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
21,958 posts, read 22,109,113 times
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My husband and I are going to be flying from Salt Lake City, Utah to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in January, 2015, and will be departing on a cruise from there. What I'm wondering is this: Are we better off buying our plane tickets as early as we possibly can, or is there a better option? Do rates typically rise and fall according to some system I have yet to figure out, or should we just bite the bullet and buy the cheapest fares we can find right now, knowing that they probably won't get any lower?
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:01 AM
 
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They may get lower. They often do from what I see, esp domestically. It depends on a lot of things (holidays, etc), but 6-8 weeks seems to be the sweet spot.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Jollyville, TX
3,850 posts, read 9,440,143 times
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Buying early won't necessarily get you the cheapest tickets, but it does buy you peace of mind.

Here's what I have found over the years of buying airline tickets.

-Sign up for email alerts from your favorite carriers that fly that route. When you see a special, jump on it.

- 6 months in advance it's really hard to tell whether fares are going to go up or down. What I usually do is see how crowded the flights are for the days of the week you are flying - the more popular the route, the higher the fares are going to be and they get more expensive closer to the departure date.

To do this, you basically go through the booking process (without actually getting to the purchase screen) and when it comes time to select your seat you can see how full the plane already is. From there you just cancel. Try it on a flight that's 30 days out from now.

The "system" is really complicated and hard to figure out, but best I can tell, popularity of a particular route and days of the week have a lot to do with it. For example, Tuesdays Wednesdays and Saturdays are the cheapest. If your cruise departs on a Friday, you might save enough money on a Wednesday flight (vs. Thursday) to justify another night in a hotel.

I have family in Florida and one thing I can tell you is in the past, fares in January were usually some of the lowest of the year. I guess not a lot of people flying there after Christmas. You probably have plenty of time.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Gallatin, TN
3,741 posts, read 7,037,035 times
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I see articles from time to time with a "magic date" before departure that you should buy the tickets...like this article that says it is 54 days for domestic flights. In reality, I doubt there's an exact science to it. However, websites like Kayak and Cheapair will show price trends of recent activity to give you an idea if now's a good time to buy or hold off. I really like Kayak's feature personally and have found it to be a pretty good indicator.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:28 AM
 
12,275 posts, read 18,401,528 times
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Maybe, well sometimes, yes, maybe no.

No there is no science...it's like forecasting stock movements. Rates can go up or down depending on demand, and airlines have complex computer forumulas to figure it all out.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:32 AM
 
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,126 posts, read 17,133,831 times
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If you book on southwest, if the fare goes down, you can re-book, and get a credit for the difference and use it on a future flight (within a year).
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Jollyville, TX
3,850 posts, read 9,440,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyonpa View Post
If you book on southwest, if the fare goes down, you can re-book, and get a credit for the difference and use it on a future flight (within a year).
That's really good to know! I fly SW whenever possible. I like that you can reschedule with no added fees - just the difference in price of the fares.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Eastwood, Orlando FL
1,260 posts, read 1,421,175 times
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They did a study on this and it turns out the tickets are at their lowest 54 days out

Why You Should Book Your Flight Exactly 54 Days in Advance - SmarterTravel.com


ETA Don Corleone beat me
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,069 posts, read 19,002,971 times
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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.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:30 AM
 
5,574 posts, read 5,833,230 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katzpur View Post
My husband and I are going to be flying from Salt Lake City, Utah to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in January, 2015, and will be departing on a cruise from there. What I'm wondering is this: Are we better off buying our plane tickets as early as we possibly can, or is there a better option? Do rates typically rise and fall according to some system I have yet to figure out, or should we just bite the bullet and buy the cheapest fares we can find right now, knowing that they probably won't get any lower?
Depending on when in January, it may be too soon to book on some airlines. I think Southwest is only booking through the first few days of January at this point, for example.
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