How Far In Advance Do You Buy Airline Tickets?


Oct 13, 1999
Do you buy your tickets early? How early? Do you wait for a seat sale?
I like to buy my tickets ASAP. I try to wait for a sale but it never works out that way. I worry too much about getting the times and days and non-stops I want. That is more important to me.

I usually book as soon as the websites let me but I was VERY lucky enough last year to find a big sale going on just for 2 days at AA in January for our trip in October. I paid $400.00 for 4 of us from Boston to Orlando non-stop!! The best I've ever paid!

I usually pay $200 - $220
IMHO, where you live (the airport(s) you can use) makes a lot of difference.

For MSP it usually isn't a good idea to "wait" for a sale. I usually start looking as soon as my lodging is booked (11 months in advance). As soon as I see a resonable price come up, I jump on it. Lately, that has been anything less than $250 RT for non-stop flights (NWA) and $160 RT for one connection (which can occasionally be found on Delta).

If you have no idea what "reasonable" prices are for your airport of choice, post the airport(s) and I'm sure you'll get several replies. Good luck and happy hunting!
As others have said - it helps to know what a good fare is from your city so that you know when to jump into action. We are from the NY Tri State Area and have a half a dozen airports to choose from (all within an hour and a half) and I will usually jump on a fare of $175 or less anytime it comes up - no matter how far in advance. If fares stay above that I will wait for Southwest or Jet Blue to open up my dates and then look for a 'sale'. I just bought tickets a few weeks ago for our end of May 2003 trip. I don't like to wait to the last minute and will generally buy tickets 6 months or more in advance if a decent price comes up.

We have done well on short notice, but you might have to be a bit more flexible.
I am a worrier so booking early relieves stress for me. I usually don't pay rock bottom, but knowing I have my tickets saves my sanity! I just booked for May at $220 RT from Burlington to Orlando. I could get a cheaper price right now, but the schedule stinks.

I have researched flights and know when a fare is a pretty good deal. I also realize that a better deal MAY come along...but I'm not going to obsess over it.

Plus, when I book early, I have a longer time to pay my credit card off!
I too booked 6 months early. I had a set budget for my trip so I figured out my dates and then got online. I wanted PHL or EWR but the prices were $179^ found out about Souteast out of ABE (closer to me!) and playing with my dates found a fare for $133. This allowed me to add more days to my stay and then when the codes came out I upgraded my resort!

Happy Planning!
I set up Farewatcher (Travelocity) and shoot for $200 pp RT.
This upcoming trip was $212 pp RT total, and the flying times/layover were great. I jumped on it and glad I did. :)
There have been a few times I was willing pay a little extra for non-stop Midwest Express. (Different flights into MCO and LAX.) So I am willing to pay a little more for a few extra perks.
I usually book about 3 months prior to our trip. For some reason the airfare prices will drop dramatically around that time. I'm really familiar with what a good price is for the route we are taking so that's my target price. I figure if I'm within about $25 - $50 per ticket of my target price it's time to book.
As soon as you have dates made and find a great deal on flights. We reserve at the 11 month window with DVC and had ressies for June, 2003. In July 2002, I found R/T tickets from Phoenix to MCO on Delta for $177/person. I waited a few days for some stupid reason and the prices jumped up; now I cannot found tickets at less than $243/person R/T. I wish I had gotten those tickets in July, but waited too long. I hope I can find something less than $200 for our trip.....I keep checking daily. Don't be foolish and let a good price fly by!
The choicest flights for Thanksgiving weekend may go within two hours of their appearing on the internet (typically 331 days in advance.)

Tried to book the same trip I took Thanksgiving 2001, for 2003 on Delta. 3 PM the return date was out of range. I didn't get back to the computer until 10 PM and the fare was double what I paid last time and double what the week before or the week after would have cost me.

I did notice that the seat selections were unchanged from the plane being absolutely empty. (First two rows are always blocked off) Maybe there were no seats at all on those flights for the fare I was thinking of. (BOS-MCO for about $200.)

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