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When to book airline tickets?

Oak Lawn, Illinois...
4 posts
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When to book airline tickets?

We are planning an Alaskan cruise in August. When is the best time to purchase airfare? We want to fly into Anchorage a few days prior to cruise(we are renting a Harly) and we are flying home from Vancouver. How early in advance do I need to purchase the tickets?

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage
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197 reviews
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1. Re: When to book airline tickets?

Summers in Alaska are typically busy for the airlines and flying can be pricy. I'll assume you are trying to ask "when should I but to get the cheapest rates?"

You should buy when you are comfortable/happy with the price. You should look into flying through Seattle as it is usually quite a bit less expensive than Vancouver.

Fairfield, Ohio
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201 posts
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2. Re: When to book airline tickets?

I'm stalking a ticket too. I had one for $630 per person round trip out of Cincinnati Ohio and was just waiting on approval from my husbands work of his vacation days. It got approved the next day but the fare had jumped to $1100. I still feel ill over that and am watching the flights every few hours hoping it comes back down. I don't want to wait to much longer though we are going mid July

Michigan
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442 posts
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3. Re: When to book airline tickets?

Wow...that had to hurt MM....good luck in your search!

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,210 posts
27 reviews
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4. Re: When to book airline tickets?

The "best" time to buy your ticket is when it is the lowest price. But, unless you are God or a fortune teller, you won't know when that is until it is too late. So best is to buy the ticket when you feel the price is "fair." What might be "fair" to you might not be to someone else. Just don't be greedy and wait for the "cheapest" since you will never know when 'cheapest' is until it is too late.

Savanna, Illinois
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27 posts
47 reviews
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5. Re: When to book airline tickets?

I agree with other posts - it's hard to know when the "cheapest" fare is going to happen. Subscribe to the tripadvisor tripwatch first, then sign up for emails from all the major travel sites such as travelocity, etc. Then watch your emails every day. Don't wait too long though as flights get filled up, and you may find yourself still having to pay more and having to take less convenient flight or long layovers. Good luck.

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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3,033 posts
202 reviews
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6. Re: When to book airline tickets?

When you price your tickets use the "multi-city option on the airlines or travel websites. Also check two one-ways. I usually find the multi-city option to be cheaper, but you just never know what you will find. I like to sign up for alerts with www.kayak.com. However, any of the sites will be good and as suggested above, you may even want to sign up on several sites. Sometimes by the time they email the alert the price is gone. It is not unusual for an airline to run a deal for a few hours.

I have read various articles about when to buy and they don't all agree. Some day to buy on a Tuesday (one article even said Tuesday at 3 o'clock), yet I have often found best pricing on a Thursday. I have read best prices can be found 6 weeks before, but that is not always the case either. I did just read an article that said not to book too far in advance.

When we went to AK in 2008 with the multi-city flights, we purchased in November for a June flight. I did keep watching (couldn't resist) and did notice they went down a little in March. It wasn't enough that I was kicking myself, but the price never went down to what I would call "bargain" pricing. We paid low $600s for our flights back then out of DTW flying to Vancouver and home from Anchorage.

Basically airline tickets are a matter of supply and demand, no matter where you are going. In the past we always found last minute pricing to be high, but recently my DH needed a last minute one way ticket and he got a very reasonable price within a week before the trip. The airline doesn't want to fly with a lot of empty seats. If the flight has been filling, they will not likely offer bargain fairs early on. However, if the flight is not filling, they will drop prices. Vigilance is the key.

My daughter is flying to Vancouver in June and bought her tickets about a month ago. She got round-trip out of DTW for $400. It was actually more for them to fly to Seattle the day they bought. This is highly unusual as tickets to Seattle usually run about $100-$200 less than tickets to Vancouver out of DTW. It was also another $100 if they picked up their connecting flight in Chicago. She called me and asked if the $400 was a good price. I sure thought so, as I had never seen a RT from DTW to Vancouver that low. They jumped on it!!!

I am really sorry you couldn't get the answer you were hoping for, as there truly is no "best" time to buy that will be consistent from year to year. I hope you find a fair price and have a wonderful trip to Alaska.

London, United...
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408 posts
154 reviews
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7. Re: When to book airline tickets?

Don't forget to clear out your cookies on your browser! The airlines assume that a return visitor is about to buy and can bump up the price...

Oak Lawn, Illinois...
4 posts
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8. Re: When to book airline tickets?

thank you everyone for your replies. we have been watching the prices--which have been consistently around $700. We will book when we are comfortable with the price. I have been checking on Kayak and various sites!! Trying to do Alaska on a budget has its challenges!!!

Thanks again for the responses!!

Newtown...
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221 posts
51 reviews
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9. Re: When to book airline tickets?

Remember you have 24 hours after purchasing airfare to cancel it with no penalties. it can be useful with complex family schedules.

Brooklyn baby
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251 posts
48 reviews
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10. Re: When to book airline tickets?

I booked my cruise with princess - they have a $250 off airfare per person promotion right now and yesterday I booked NYC-ANC and YVR - NYC for $260 per person total! (Traveling July 23 and Aug 8) .. Even without the discount - that was the cheapest rate that had popped up over the last week ... I was searching daily at different times of the day and rates were changing. Good luck!

Edited: 29 January 2013, 23:34