A bit long, but well worth your time — Rick
Oil prices are getting ridiculous again. That means airlines are pulling the parachute rip cord and sailing off to the Land of High Prices (there have been six airfare hikes since January). Oh, and don’t look for any empty middle seats, either – the airlines have perfected the art of capacity cuts.
So, expect sky high airline ticket prices this summer. Prudent passengers are already getting some airfare quotes and I suspect most are not liking what they’re finding – and that’s because airlines are expecting strong summer demand – so why should they discount.
So, the 10 million dollar question is: When should I lock in my summer air travel plans?
Let me see if I can help shed some light.
Right now is a bit too earlier to lock in for airfare for June or July travel. This is because the airlines are still concentrating their activity on April and May departures and haven’t quite gotten around to probing the appetite of early bird shoppers with decent summer deals. I would (and I will) plan on shopping in earnest for those trips in the latter part of March. However, do sign up for the FareCompare Airfare Alerts now, just in case they pull a “Crazy Ivan” on you (feel free to look it up on UrbanDictionary.com).
That said, you should be shopping in earnest now for April/May departures as the short term prospects of fuel prices dipping aren’t looking promising. I am not suggesting you become a day trader on the oil futures exchange, but it might not hurt to remember what you paid this week for a tank of gas.
When is the Best Time to Buy Summer 2011 Airline Tickets?
Here’s your answer:
- Start shopping later this month
- Do not procrastinate by waiting until May
This year, we’ll see the early bird getting the “better bad deal”; the really great deals, unfortunately, will be few and far between.
Why should you listen to my musings on this topic? At FareCompare we have the luxury of sitting on top of the world’s largest database of current and historical airfare information and get to watch airline ticket pricing machinations for over 500 airlines in real-time, 24/7. Our sole goal when we hit the door each morning is to work on technology to find deals and help you make a better buying decision. That is who we are and that is what we do.
Let me toss out a few tips that will help you save some money on your summer vacations:
- Sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts: Our real-time alerts are the best way to keep track of what is happening on your favorite route
- Consider a connecting flight: As painful as that may sound, nonstops are now garnering a $100+ premium
- The best time to shop for airfare is Tuesday at 3pm EST: Shop Tuesday throuth Thursday. Do deals ever occur on the weekends? Yes; and someone usually wins the lottery, too
- Fly the Cheapest Days: These are typically Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday; if you can’t fly any of these days for both departure and return, at least schedule one of your flights on these days to realize some savings
- Split Up Your Family’s Ticket Purchase: When shopping for multiple tickets, airline reservation systems bump everyone up to the next higher price level, if there are not enough seats available to fulfill your entire order. By purchasing one-at-a-time, at least some in your party will snag the cheapest available seats
Final note of caution: Back in the summer of 2008, oil prices hit $145 per barrel and Goldman Sachs came out with a report saying oil was likely to hit $200/barrel. That prompted many to lock in Thanksgiving and Christmas flights; instead oil crashed to $50 per barrel and procrastinators were rewarded with much cheaper seats.
Could this happen again? The honest answer is, no one knows. For now, though, my advice is: be prudent, shop early and you’ll definitely be able to score a deal (even if it is the best of some bad ones).