How far in advance can you book flights?
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We are planning to return Thanksgiving weekend 2004, so the flight schedules aren't published yet. I want to book as early as possible, though since I know the prices will increase greatly as the dates get closer. Does anybody know how early the airlines publish their schedules? Thanks.
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I think you can book 11 months in advance and both your departure date and arrival date have to fit in that window. I personally usually book by flights about 4 to 5 months in advance for just the reason that Don describes: the times and costs often change closer to the days you want.
Airfares typically start high, then drop, and finally go back up again during the last few weeks before traveling. Book early and you will be sure of having a flight during that busy period, but it won't be cheap. Not only that, but the flight schedule may change several times while you hold the ticket. If you're nervous, book about six months ahead. If you want to save some money, consider booking about two or three months in advance. Any closer than that during Thanksgiving time and you do run the risk of not finding the flight you want.
We found most airlines post prices and schedules 11 months out, which is frustrating when you're trying to plan so far ahead. Interestingly, we've found the prices when they're first published for trans-atlantic flights were really low and then went up after a couple of weeks.
I booked my flight with Southwest back in May with a good deal. Prices have dropped since then but I dont know how good of a deal you are going to find because of it being a hoilday weekend. Im sure that there are good deals out there. I would suggest looking at Southwest, I got a good price and they just might end up being my airline of choice even though I dont like flying. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
I checked this week with AirTran for this year's Thanksgiving weekend & prices were about double what I paid with them in March. I figured they were higher because Nov. is just a few months away. I was hoping that if I booked 6 months or more in advance, I could save $$$. [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]
Perhaps all airlines are different but from what I've observed flying out of Toronto, the airlines do really wacky things with the prices as time goes on. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the unbelievable price fluctuations in any given period. In general though, I find that booking flights too early (more than 4 months ahead of time) results in paying quite a bit more and waiting too long results in the same thing. One airline employee suggested to me that I make a daily call to the airline to check on the prices for my destination and travel dates. Apparently seat sales can come and go in a day. I followed his advice for our August trip and ended up saving over $400. It was certainly worth the hassle of a daily phone call.
We usually book about 6 months prior. Prices then drop, but of course you can't get a refund.
I booked my Nov. trip last month and within a week, price dropped $60 a ticket! But, if I wouldn't keep checking every day, I wouldn't get disgusted with myself for booking so early! But they could have easily went the other way!!
We'll be there the weekend before Thanksgiving and I priced tix for that.......twice as much!!
I don't know about all airlines but if you book with Spirit and the rate (same flights) go lower, they'll give you the difference in a credit for your next travel with them [good for 1 year] We booked our May 04 flight with them last week, during major price drop and feel we got a good rate compared to others times we've flown to Florida.