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Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a US-to-Europe flight more than two months in advance
Old 06-06-2016, 10:33 PM   #1
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Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a US-to-Europe flight more than two months in advance

I've often read advice to purchase tickets to Europe way in advance, even as much as 6 months or more. My personal experience has been that there is no need to book flights more than about 60 days in advance as prices seem to keep dropping as you approach the 60 day mark. So for the last several years I've booked 2 months or even slightly less in advance of my trip.

This data presented by this article jives with my personal experience.
Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a US-to-Europe flight more than two months in advance — Quartz

Of course I violated that rule this year because United had a sudden half off sale for fall and spring Europe fares if you book by June 7. When the price is half of what I have seen for years - well you jump on it!
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Old 06-06-2016, 10:56 PM   #2
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Your observations are right on for 2016, with Fall fares dropping substantially due to lower demand for European travel. Places like Turkey and Greece are seeing a 65% decrease in tourism due to the influx of Syrian refugees. Libyans are flooding into Italy too.

We returned 3 weeks ago from London, and were in Scandinavia last August and September. We flew the new price leader, Norwegian Air Shuttle--who flies into Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, JFK, Oakland, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

We paid in the $700's for round trip airfares.

The full fare legacy air carriers like Delta and United Airlines are raising cain about Norwegian Air Shuttle's use of Singapore based flight crews working for very low wages. On the six flight legs we've been on with Norwegian, only one had any substantial number of Far Eastern employees.

With Norwegian filling almost every seat on every flight, the legacy carriers consider them a threat to their pocketbook.

We all know the airline industry can and will control pricing by supply and demand. If they fly with empty seats, they'll cut back on the scheduled flights and prices will increase.

In other words, enjoy the low fares and jump on them when you can get them. And if you have to fly one of the cut rate carriers, go for it. Norwegian's flying brand new Boeing 787's.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:33 AM   #3
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“This airline is ‘Norwegian’ in name only,” DeFazio said after the bill’s introduction last week. “It’s a virtual airline set up to undercut competition by exploiting cheap labor. Our bipartisan legislation sends a strong message to DOT — we must stop this race to the bottom and protect the open and fair transatlantic aviation market.”

Lawmakers seek to ground Norwegian Air’s flight bid | TheHill
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:10 AM   #4
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Sometimes this is true, but there are other factors to consider as well.

Start tracking the price as soon as you know you need to travel and get some idea of the "regular" price.
I've noticed that prices don't seem to fluctuate as much as they used to, in the past you might notice a different price a couple of times a week.

Now in my case, going to London, there is a daily non-stop from MSP...I want that flight so that makes it easier. Todays pricing the non-stop is actually cheaper then connecting, because of add on airport fees. That isn't always true at some point they tack on a premium for the non-stop(which makes sense to me)

Also business class to London is 4000 each way higher then coach, not going there.
However preferred seating is 99 bucks each way, I'm doing this trip with my DD so we want a row of 2 preferred seating together, totally worth the money IMO.

Audrey is nice enough to post the fare sale, I check my flight and see that what I consider to be the very best preferred seats are still open on both flights. The price has dropped by one-third. We buy tickets, it's a no brainer. Now yes the price might drop a little between now and early Nov when we travel, but I don't care.

This flight also has 277 dollars in add on fees, which means any reduction would only come off the 750 dollar actual fare basis.

One last comment on long-haul flights be wary of waiting in an era of rising oil prices, they no longer just raise the fares they slap on a "fuel surcharge" my flight already had a 400 "fuel surcharge" added to it. So in fact the actual fare component was about 350 dollars. I would expect the fuel charges to start rising.

So be sure and click far enough thru your price quote to see exactly how they are breaking down your fare.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:20 AM   #5
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We absolutely agree with this...air from Canada to Europe and Asia as well.

We are planning to go to Europe in late August/early Sept and return in Oct. No air booked yet. Waiting to snag a last minute Med cruise to include as part of our travels. We have been tentatively shopping for air. Prices are lower today than they were 2 months ago.

We have found for the past three years that airfare to Europe and Asia, for us, has been more attractively priced when we buy anywhere from 10-45 days out. Cannot say the same for North American flights that we have checked.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:31 AM   #6
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There is definitely a tradeoff with the wait till the last minute option. Flight times, stops, seating availability. I'm starting to dislike air travel so much I'm not willing to throw the dice on all these things. I watch and wait and think about factors other then the lowest fare.

Years ago, a flight where things went wrong or you had an unpleasant encounter with another person was a one off. Now is seems to happen routinely. I'll pay a little extra to try and insulate myself from that situation.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivinsfan View Post
Sometimes this is true, but there are other factors to consider as well.

Start tracking the price as soon as you know you need to travel and get some idea of the "regular" price.
I've noticed that prices don't seem to fluctuate as much as they used to, in the past you might notice a different price a couple of times a week.
Yapta.com Log your flight or potential flight into this web site and they will track pricing for you.

Rita
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ivinsfan View Post
There is definitely a tradeoff with the wait till the last minute option. Flight times, stops, seating availability. I'm starting to dislike air travel so much I'm not willing to throw the dice on all these things. I watch and wait and think about factors other then the lowest fare.

Years ago, a flight where things went wrong or you had an unpleasant encounter with another person was a one off. Now is seems to happen routinely. I'll pay a little extra to try and insulate myself from that situation.
I agree with the flight times, stops, and seating availability issue. SO and I had to sit in different seats in May as a result of my forgetting to select seats early enough (even though I had booked the flight months in advance ).
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:48 AM   #9
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Not apples to apples because I think the data is for flights originating from Canada but an article from the Canadian financial magazine, Moneysense March 2015, suggested the following times base on CheapAir.com 2014 data.

US & Canada 47days
Mexico 251d
Caribbean 144d
Latin America 96d
Europe 276d
Africa 262d
Middle East 213d
Asia 318d
South Pacific 244d

I'd guess that the numbers would be evolving year over year due to changing demand patterns.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:04 PM   #10
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Europe 276 days - that's crazy!

For US domestic flights including Hawaii, I find a month is plenty, and prices often drop more the week or two before the 21 day window.

We always select seats as soon as possible when ticketing. I also watch seat availability as I'm deciding when to book.

I don't do the last minute thing. Prices seem to jump at 21 days, and much more at 7 days. And entire route option disappear.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by brett View Post
We absolutely agree with this...air from Canada to Europe and Asia as well.

We are planning to go to Europe in late August/early Sept and return in Oct. No air booked yet. Waiting to snag a last minute Med cruise to include as part of our travels. We have been tentatively shopping for air. Prices are lower today than they were 2 months ago.

We have found for the past three years that airfare to Europe and Asia, for us, has been more attractively priced when we buy anywhere from 10-45 days out. Cannot say the same for North American flights that we have checked.
Today there is a big Europe airfare sale that will disappear tomorrow - just so you don't miss it. It may Be US only.
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Old 06-07-2016, 02:33 PM   #12
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Europe 276 days - that's crazy!

<snip>
LOL. Yeah it is a bit crazy but we actually have occasionally booked approximately 9 months in advance if we see either a seat sale (not including mistake fares) or a price we think is within spec. It has generally worked out for us, such that if we saw the price go down, it wasn't too much to make us very unhappy. We typically only do it for a cruise or if we have a specific destination in mind.
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Old 06-07-2016, 02:38 PM   #13
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There are definitely some exceptions.

Last year I bought a ticket (USA to Germany) about five months ahead because it looked like a good deal. Then I kept following the published prices up until a couple of weeks before my flight and never saw one that was less than 15% higher than I had paid. So I was definitely right, and it was a good deal.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:10 PM   #14
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Europe 276 days - that's crazy!

I also watch seat availability as I'm deciding when to book.
Yes. Cheap airfares if one must sit in bad seats is no deal, IMHO. People of height are especially sensitive to this. There are plenty of ways to save money on vacation. But, cramped seats on a long overseas flight is not one of them.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:18 PM   #15
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Audrey1's advice is the OP is timely and makes sense. On the other hand, sometimes it also makes sense to book a deal when it looks good, even at the risk of missing on a better deal down the road.

We are headed to Germany July and in February I was able to book 2 refundable business class fares for a bit more than double the non-refundable coach fare. I have looked at fares since then and seen a few business class fares a bit cheaper, but nothing refundable even comes close in any class, and there is a very small chance of a last minute change in plans, so the full refund matters.
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Old 06-07-2016, 04:12 PM   #16
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Most booking sites give 60 days as the usual bottom.

Now this can deviate based on a.o. oil prices, exchange rate fluctuations and tourist incidents (e.g. Egypt is dirt cheap because there have been a few terror attacks, or Turkey in bad news because refugees).

Stay flexible if you aren't in a rush to go, and pounce when ready

The week after the latest attacks in Brussels flights to Paris surely shifted around a lot in pricing.
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Old 06-07-2016, 04:33 PM   #17
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I envy people on the east coast for their short flight across the pond. Less miserable flight time, and the airfare is also much lower.

For example, I just priced out a trip in Sep/Oct. Business class for Chicago to Rome: $1600. For Phoenix to Rome: $4000.
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Old 06-07-2016, 04:37 PM   #18
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I envy people on the east coast for their short flight across the pond. Less miserable flight time, and the airfare is also much lower.

For example, I just priced out a trip in Sep/Oct. Business class for Chicago to Rome: $1600. For Phoenix to Rome: $4000.
For business class, how cheap to you expect it to get..that Chicago fare is impressive.
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Old 06-07-2016, 05:00 PM   #19
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Well, the flight from O'Hare that I looked for comparison has only one stop, but turns out to have very long layovers in Berlin. But the money saved for 2 would be plenty for a nice meal and a hotel room if necessary. And it is actually less than $1600.

And the flight from Phoenix is actually more than $4100, not $4000.
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Old 06-07-2016, 05:11 PM   #20
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Well, the flight from O'Hare that I looked for comparison has only one stop, but turns out to have very long layovers in Berlin. But the money saved for 2 would be plenty for a nice meal and a hotel room if necessary. And it is actually less than $1600.

And the flight from Phoenix is actually more than $4100, not $4000.
I know it may be a PITA, but why not fly to Chicago from Phoenix?
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