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X-mas 07 - Airline Tickets - Best Time to Buy

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
The family is heading to Utah for the Christmas holidays. I usually don't like booking this far out, but I need to buy seven tickets to SLC from Washington, DC, so I need to start looking for the deals now.

When's the best time to book flights at the holidays.

Anyone know of any deals this early?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 12
Set up fare alerts on the various travel sites for the dates you need. Do some research on the cheapest days of the week to fly and the most efficient length of stay and so on.

If I had the time, I'd love to take the train for that trip at least once in my lifetime, I'd leave from a different location, obviously---but I'd still like to do that some day. (see Stache's train trip to Montana thread) You just might consider that as an alternative.
post #3 of 12
I found September to be the best I could find.

That's when they ACTUALLY know what flights are going where, not just what they copied from last year.
post #4 of 12
If you're trying to get 7 tickets together (kids?), availability will likely be a problem if you're looking at capacity based discounts near the latter end of the year. If you don't mind being scattered throughout the plane, or on multiple flights, you'll have far more flexibility.
post #5 of 12
That's a hard one. I have been tracking them for a couple years for our trips in January. The first year we went we bought on SW the first week of September because the other carriers were already to high. Then SW shot up that following week (2nd week Spetember) and never went down. Now I'm looking at Delta and it has gone up $150 since May and I have a feeling it wont go down. Just because last year at this time they were already that same price and never went down. We ended up using FF miles.

In all honestly, you have to weigh what is more important..nonstop, price, everyone on one plane...etc. For us, with small children, we have learned non-stop is best...so we know we are easily going to pay $100/ticket more.

I know if you book on SW, if the price goes down, you can call and they will give you a voucher. I've done that on Delta too but that was a couple years ago and I think the policy changed or they charge a fee.
post #6 of 12
If you're using frequent flyer miles the earlier the better. Check schdules frequently to see when the seasonal winter flights are posted.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've already checked on frequently flier mile flights. Believe it or not, nothing is available. I'd prefer nonstop, because of the kids.

Delta has nonstop flights for $400.

SW is only booking into midNovember.

A Train? I wish we had the time. Sounds relaxing.
post #8 of 12
I watched prices pretty carefully starting about this time last year for DC area to Denver, SLC, and Reno/Sac/SF. Best I saw for Denver was about 140. Best for other cities was about 200. My timeframes were either xmas or Easter. Eventually bought 5 tickets in Nov via Travelocity for Apr trip from BWI to Denver at $140 each on Northwest Air (did some fun Easter skiing at Keystone and Loveland). Later in winter I saw same price for DCA and IAD to Denver, both would have been more convenient for me. At prices I quoted all trips included one stop. For XMAS timeframe I would GUESS that after about Sep your prices will only rise. So between now and Aug is not too soon.
In recent years I don't recall Denver being such a relative bargain compared to other western airports I mentioned (usually they are all around 200).
post #9 of 12
Has anyone visited kayak.com??
It is very helpfull.....also I went to a website called farecompare.com

They send you automatic e-mails based upon fare changes on the itenaries that you want to travel
It is a really good website
post #10 of 12
Southwest will extend its schedule into January next week (it's currently only out to November). At that time, they'll have good availability of reasonable fares to all their destinations, but the holiday fares will go fast. The problem with Southwest, though, is that you'll probably have to make a connection coming from the East Coast.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
In the past, I found that an "average" nonholiday ticket was around $250 from DC to SLC.

How much should I expect to pay at the Christmas holidays?

I've been using kayak. Should probably check out farecompare.

We've got a house booked, just need to get there now.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
I watched prices pretty carefully starting about this time last year for DC area to Denver, SLC, and Reno/Sac/SF. Best I saw for Denver was about 140. Best for other cities was about 200. My timeframes were either xmas or Easter. Eventually bought 5 tickets in Nov via Travelocity for Apr trip from BWI to Denver at $140 each on Northwest Air (did some fun Easter skiing at Keystone and Loveland). Later in winter I saw same price for DCA and IAD to Denver, both would have been more convenient for me. At prices I quoted all trips included one stop. For XMAS timeframe I would GUESS that after about Sep your prices will only rise. So between now and Aug is not too soon.
In recent years I don't recall Denver being such a relative bargain compared to other western airports I mentioned (usually they are all around 200).
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCWVA View Post
I've already checked on frequently flier mile flights. Believe it or not, nothing is available. I'd prefer nonstop, because of the kids.
Actually, frequent flyer tickets are always available; it's just that you have to use double the miles. Assuming you're talking about Delta (given you're looking into a nonstop into Salt Lake City which is their western hub), you can get a roundtrip in coach on any flight they have available to SELL seats on by spending 50,000 miles for a roundtrip using their "SkyChoice" award. Yes, that's double the 25,000 "SkySaver" limited availability seats, but I would guess that most airlines will not have any award seats at their "saver" level over the holidays.

Assuming you were considering using miles, you probably have a bunch of them, enough for multiple tickets at the "saver" level, right? For example, if you actually had enough miles for 7 tickets at the saver level, that would be 175,000 miles. OK, you can't get saver tickets. But use 150,000 of those miles to get 3 of the "choice" tickets at the double-mile rate, and buy 4 tickets on the same flights. You would still save money compared to buying all 7 tickets.

Also keep in mind that all the US "legacy" airlines except for American are in partnership "alliances" with 1 or 2 other US-based airlines. Your Delta miles are also good for tickets on Continental or on Northwest (or NW on CO or DL, CO on DL or NW). Your United miles are good for tickets on US Airways or vice versa. You can't book these other partners on their websites; you have to call the mileage booking desk of the airline you have the miles in, and specifically ask them to check their other airline partners for availability. Maybe you could get 25,000 mile-level tickets on Continental or on Northwest using your Delta miles, for example?
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