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Old 02-05-2017, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
1,070 posts, read 1,378,555 times
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We go on a few vacations every year, but almost always we drive to our destination. Next winter break (the final week of December) we will be flying. Tickets are just going on sale now for that time period. I have heard that ticket prices can fluctuate up and down. I know that week may be the most expensive week of the year to fly, but when would be the best time to purchase tickets for that week? Would it be right now as soon as they go on sale or would it be some other time?
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Old 02-05-2017, 06:09 PM
 
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Travel tuesday or wednesday to the following tues or wed.

Or choose Thursday, but business and family travel can take place then too.

Look online tuesday night after 11pm the week before your flight.

Stay at least one weekend.

DOn't expect to find seats together, or in special spots anymore.

travel with only the required carry-on. Anything more for a week is too much anyway, pare it down.

Hope this helps
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Old 02-05-2017, 09:05 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,545 posts, read 39,924,861 times
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for final week of December, I would buy tickets early or risk not being able to get seats.

You can always book SWA (not selling for Dec 2017 yet) and make free changes if price goes down (You will get a travel credit, not a rebate)

I find best deals shopping on Sunday night. Prices often adjust on Monday, based on how the weekend filled seats.
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Old 02-09-2017, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Upland, CA
3,661 posts, read 6,483,307 times
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Agreed with StealthRabbit.. My advice is to do a bit of research over a couple of weeks to get an idea of a high and low price and use that to determine what you feel is comfortable.
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Old 02-09-2017, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,965,178 times
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Are you flying domestic or international?

Because of the high demand, I would agree that purchasing sooner than normal is better. Normally, for domestic travel I find that 3-5 weeks prior is usually the sweet spot. But with holiday travel, it gets trickier. Even the usual and correct advice given above (travel on a tue/wed/sat and book between Tuesday night and Thursday) does not quite apply with the holidays.

But certainly right now, over 10 months out, is quite early to book as well. You'll be paying for something you don't need yet and who knows if plans will change. What I would do is set up some fare alerts (so that you don't need to check prices yourself every single day) and over the next 3 months establish what the baseline pricing is. Then once June rolls around, you can go ahead and book your travel if you ever see a significant dip in price from the baseline. If you haven't booked by the end of Sept I would start to get nervous. Good luck!
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
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I keep hearing 54 days before travel date.
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Old 02-10-2017, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Gallatin, TN
3,740 posts, read 7,036,005 times
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Kayak (and other websites) offer buying trends and recommendations on whether to buy now or wait when you run your itinerary though their website. Not sure how reliable it is for others, but I've found it to be correct in my past experiences. You can also set up a fare alert on their website and they'll email you when fares drop below whatever threshhold you request.

You can also google "best time to buy flights" and read multiple articles from travel "experts" with a number of days suggested ahead of departure to buy them. As AlaskaErik said, 54 is one I see for domestic. But there are lots of factors in play there.
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Old 02-10-2017, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,312,423 times
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There are plenty of urban legends about buying on Wednesday nights (Wednesday night where? Dubai? Dallas?) or 54 or some other strange number of days before the flight, during a full moon, whatever. The technical term for all of these tales is "malarkey."

Airlines use extremely complex and extremely secret computer algorithms and "yield management" models to set fares, and they can and do fluctuate daily, even hourly. The computers monitor supply and demand nonstop, they look at how the competition's doing and what's happening with fuel prices. They look at weather models to see if the planes are going to burn more fuel fighting headwinds or save money with tailwinds. They are a LOT smarter than you or me.

Read all about it - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_management

As a general rule - and there are enough exceptions to make it a VERY general rule - fares tend to be high at the beginning of the ticket window (generally 11 months or 330 days for major US carriers and many foreign ones, 360 or 365 days for others.) This is because 11 months is a long time, during which things like fuel prices can spike, or more competition (or less) can emerge for the routes in question, etc. So the airlines hedge against those possibilities by setting fares high enough to guarantee profits even if costs go up in the meantime.

Then prices will - generally - fall slightly through the next 2/3 or so of the window, then rise back up as the flight day approaches and as the cheaper "buckets" (fare categories within the economy or premium cabins) sell out. By the day before the flight, you'll pay high "walk up" fares.

It's all about competition and supply and demand. So WHERE are you flying to, from where, and WHEN? You're going to pay a very different price for a ticket from New York to Rome in June than you will in February, but a ticket from New York to Honolulu will usually cost more in February than it will in July, because people want to go someplace warm.
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Old 02-11-2017, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Connecticut
1,070 posts, read 1,378,555 times
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Thank you all for the advice and tips!
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Old 02-17-2017, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Way up high
14,115 posts, read 20,881,426 times
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We are going to NYC in May and want to do first class from Denver. I saw it fluctuate from 1780-2300 and finally when it went to 1850 I jumped on it. I wanted to secure it and pick my seats. I'm glad I did because going out there we had options. Going back it was full except for 2 seats last row.
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