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When do you purchase your flights?

Chicago, Illinois
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238 posts
5 reviews
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When do you purchase your flights?

How far out does everyone purchase their flights? We are planning on going the last week in March 2014, and want specific days and times so I don't want to wait until everything starts booking up. However, the spring rates are outrageous from Chicago - over $1,000 pp. Don't want to purchase the tickets, then have the prices drop!

Elk Rapids, Michigan
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for Lanai
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1. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

We upgrade using miles so the soonest we can book (330 days out from the return) is when we book.

"Don't want to purchase the tickets, then have the prices drop!"

Don't want to wait and see them go up either I bet or not have any for your dates.

Best bet, buy when it looks right to you then quit looking. Even if they drop in price you will no doubt have non refundable tickets anyway and would not be able to do anything about it.

NORTH CAROLINA
Destination Expert
for Oahu
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2. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

If we are using airmiles I book as soon as I can if we have our dates.

I just booked our flights for next may on Hawaiian I had enough airmiles for one way and booked the legs separately LAS-HNL then back OGG-LAS that way I only have to pay for one inter island flight.

March is considered part of high season so fares will likely be high anyway. Are you married to one airline or are you gonna go with whoever is cheapest?

Chicago, Illinois
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238 posts
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3. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

We have some miles on AA for 2 tickets but we need 4 and right now their prices for our dates run $1,600 per ticket!!!!! So I don't want to reserve two tickets using miles, and hope those flights go down in price in the future. I have checked into flying to lax or phx then going on Hawaiian to and from Hawaii but it's not much cheaper. Any ideas?

Oklahoma City...
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150 posts
156 reviews
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4. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

Its spring break time so rates are going to be on the high side. Usually as far in advance will get you a reasonable deal then supply and demand dictates if the price will go up or down as the dates get closer.

Lubbock, TX
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725 posts
17 reviews
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5. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

Take everything you read in reply to your question with a grain of salt, including my post.

1) The current price is PROBABLY not the lowest price. It may go considerably lower. This has been the history of airfare pricing. But history can be thrown out the window when certain circumstances prevail, e.g., if war breaks out in the middle east and pushes oil prices higher, or the economy bounces up or down dramatically.

2) If historical trends are followed, the rates will reach their lowest about the time the most desirable seats (window & aisle pairs in a 2-3-2 or 2-5-2 arrangement) are mostly gone, and they have lots of less desirable seats available. Then it will take a steep rise as the plane gets close to full or the flight date draws close.

3) Best way to predict is to watch very regularly (2 - 3 times a week, at least).

4) Some websites purport to predict pricing trends - Travelocity.com has a little window at upper left when pricing that tells you they think prices will go up or down (they are only projecting a few weeks out, and they aren't that good at predicting). Also Yapta.com and Farecompare.com will try to convince you they can help you predict. Use them, but don't rely on them.

5) Know that certain days are cheaper - often much cheaper - to fly on. Everybody wants to fly out on Friday or Saturday and return on Saturday or Sunday. Flying on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday is often a hundred dollars or more cheaper per seat. Kayak.com will allow you to see the ticket prices for every day within a month in a little box if you specify some flexibility in dates. You don't have to be flexible, but try it just to see the results.

6) Some will say there is a best day of the week and time to purchase tickets. This is based upon the fact that most airlines post ticket prices weekly on Monday nights, then the first half of Tuesday they are all comparing and adjusting to the competition. So many websites advise you to check prices Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning for best prices. I've seen other articles that dispute this.

7) You will probably have an idea already, or will quickly develop an idea of which flight(s) you most want to track. IMPORTANT - every time you check pricing on flights, go to the airline's website and look at the seats available.

You're starting early. This is good, since nothing is likely to happen soon. Get in the habit of checking prices through a consolidator like Kayak.com (very fast and accurate), then seats at the airline's website. Do this 2 - 3 times a week. You will see the trends yourself and will know when to pull the trigger when prices begin to move. You can also read a myriad of articles on ticket purchase timing, but don't rely upon them, or the services (Yapta and Farecompare were worthless in my situation - might be better for you since you fly from a major hub).

If you have miles or points to use, learn to use ITA Matrix - it's not that hard, and there are some good tips on Flyertalk.com and other frequent flyer boards.

NORTH CAROLINA
Destination Expert
for Oahu
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16 reviews
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6. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

Yikes $1600 a piece that is high I have'nt even seen that here that is a coach fare?

Have you checked the prices to the other islands?

Can you fly out of another airport?

No way would I pay that much nor would my husband let me.

That is the nice thing about Hawaiian they let you use miles for one way and pay for the other plus on our last trip the other 3 people traveling with me were able to give me their airmiles for free since I have the HA Visa I got 15,000 that way.

Nashville
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17 posts
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7. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

We booked our flights for next month in April and have watched the prices go up and up.

Virginia
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677 posts
33 reviews
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8. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

I booked in early June for end of September because I was using vouchers (but wouldn't cover the entire cost so price was important to me), and I know that process can take longer/wanted to ensure good flight options and good seats. I have watched the rates regularly since then and they hardly changed over time until they went sky high closer to the time of the trip. I would say you have a good amount of time to watch rates, but keep in mind that your options get less over time (flight times and seats, etc).

Chesterfield, Mich.
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3,674 posts
11 reviews
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9. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

UNCMOM, you are in N.C. Do you fly in and out of LAS as in Las Vegas? Or am I way off on that? Just curious.

Chicago, Illinois
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238 posts
5 reviews
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10. Re: When do you purchase your flights?

Wow, thanks for the quick responses! And Deubster, you are right on, I usually check the amount of seats left on the flights to determine if the price will go up or down. All the other tips were great too! I think the reason why it's more expensive is because we want to fly into HNL and home from LIH so it's not a true roundtrip. I don't really want two connections on the way home, ex. fly from LIH to HNL on Hawaiian or similar, then HNL to LAX, then LAX to ORD. Maybe there is another option?

And, UNCMOM2011, on AA we have booked one flight w/miles and the other a one-way and bought the ticket, however to Hawaii, most airlines increase the price for the one-way, on UAL it's the same price as the roundtrip!!!