Just wanted to get everyone's opinion on when to book... What has been your experience? How early? is there a "golden" time frame? I generally book pretty far in advance, probably more to give myself something to look forward to, but I wasn't sure if there was a "right" time.
— otherwise known as revenue management, progressive pricing or the computerized art of changing a ticket price over time based on actual supply and demand
Delta right now has an airfare sale from Atlanta to Aruba. April 30, 2013
$430.40 > 45 days (sale pricing)
$376.40 < 45 days prior (sale pricing)
$460.40 sale period black out dates for Easter
$422.40 off season June non-sale pricing
This past July, for tickets purchased approximately 37 days in advance, our fares were $453.40.
IF I used the theory to wait until < 45 days prior to departure, for a flight this coming June, 5 months out, I would pay MORE for tickets than our flights last July. But, if I wanted to fly during President's week in February, much less than 45 days out, the Delta fare is presently $1053.80. Air Tran who is running the same sale as Delta is presently $739.40 for the same dates.
As Gaby said, and I will say it again, buy the tickets when you are comfortable with the price, and do not look back. That is unless you fly Jet Blue and then you will be at your computer at least once a day checking to see if the "dynamic pricing" has brought the fare down.
Many people say about 45 days prior to departure.
We were watching fares on Delta for Christmas which in mid-November were $1500 per person. The week before Christmas the fare dropped to $550.
If we had waited that close to book, we would have had no real choices on accommodations since everything was sold out. Rather than take the chance we went on a cruise instead.
My best advice always is to buy a ticket in which you are comfortable with the price you have paid and unless you are flying Jet Blue, never look back.
If you fly Jet Blue, then you will be looking at the fares multiple times daily to see if there was a price ddecrease so that you can get a credit.
Prices are based on an extremely complex formula, proprietary for each airline. In short, they are based on the number of seats booked for a flight and compared to past history on similar flights as well as current trends. The "best time to buy" changes for each flight. Pick a number that works for you and book when someone hits that number.
Too many contributing factors to be predictable. Maybe the most significant would be how full the plane is. As departure date approaches, if the plane isn't full, drop the price. If jet fuel futures for the departure date drops, change your price. If you're the only airline in a market, you can dictate the price. On the other hand, if the competition in your market drops their price,...
I suspect most people buy the lowest fare. That ticket is usually non-refundable so once you buy, you're out of luck. Jet Blue is one airline that will give you a credit (not a refund) if the price drops for your flights after you buy. You then have to use that credit with them within a year. I don't know if that's the case with any other airlines.
What we do is fly Jet Blue and buy our tickets just before the credit from last year expires and continue to check the price until departure. This year we bought three months out and have since received credits to result in a 43% price reduction! the biggest price drop came at two months out. This year's price is about the lowest RT price we've paid in 14 years.
When To Buy Plane Tickets For The Holidays
"According to Kayak... For those wanting to go international, try to book sooner rather than later; if last year is any indication, airfare steadily increased as departures got closer."
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I don't think there is a "golden time" to buy. If you see a great deal, you should grab it. I had been looking for flights for this June for a month or so. One day I pulled up the flights on Delta and saw they were about the same as usual. My eye suddenly saw the price for first/business was only $180 more round trip. I bought those tickets that day, I have checked back several times since and they have never been within $150 of that price. Some times a whole lot more. Yes, I can get coach for less but not a lot less.