Best time window to book award tickets

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by r0m8470, Oct 29, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. r0m8470

    r0m8470 Silver Member

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    Hello, I am a newbie on the FF game.

    Have some questions:
    - What is the best time window to book award ticket - is it a year ahead, 10 months ahead, 8 months ahead?
    - Or is there no such thing as 'good' window vs 'bad' window?

    I am trying to find 2 award spaces from Western Europe (AA and United) next summer (July 2015) and it's quite difficult. It's a lot easier to find spaces from US to Europe rather than the other way around. I've looked at different city pairs and use a lot of permutations (on UA: FRA-IAD/IAH/ORD, CPH-IAD/IAH/ORD/EWR, and few others), and also AA. It's very difficult to find business savers spots.

    I also tried ExpertFlyer and no dice there as well. Is this common - or am I searching too early? Do I search closer to the travel date? Do I search a few months before? Do I look for the longest segments first, then try to piece together the shorter segments?

    Thank you and all pointers are appreciated!
     
  2. lapointdm

    lapointdm Silver Member

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    hmm.. well there are different train of thoughts on this. Some people say book as soon as possible for your flight which is roughly 365 to 330 ish days on many carriers. The thought being if there are open flights you'll have first dibs. Some say wait until it's rather close to the flight date - 3 to 1 month out because more award seeing will be available if regular seating doesn't sell. Some people say order whenever because seats are opened up over time. I'd say I've personally had more luck planning well in advance for tickets for 4 people, but that might not matter so much if it is just one person. Also some people use programs like expert flyer to "check" for seating for them and notify when things come open.

    I dare say any and all of these strategies work but it depends on the carrier, where you want to go, when you want to go, how many other people want to go there when you do, and the whims of the gods...
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Whenever the seats are available. That could be at any of those time points or none of them.
    Really depends on the route and airline and other factors.
    EF (and all of the other tools) don't have extra access to any inventory; they just change the way you can search for it, making things a bit easier in some cases.
     
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  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    have you looked from all of the SA hubs in EU; CPH/BRU/VIE/FRA/MUC/ZRH.
     
  5. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I have different opinions and experiences as will you. It's all about the sweet spot and I'm not sure there really is one. I tend to start looking 330-365 days out (what ever day the airlines release the booking ability). If I don't find what I need I keep looking and look at other options like other alliance carriers. Personally I'd say the best times to look are at 10 months, 8 months and within 2 weeks of the trip. There is not a magic date I don't think.

    Just a quick search on AA shows me a lot of availability in MilesAAver econ or business from CDG-JFK. In this case there are a lot of seats on this route so maybe that helps. I think the big key is to be really flexible on your dates. The calendar in the screen shot blow shows it wide open but if I HAD to leave on July 5th, not so good.
    Reservations   Book Flights   Select Dates   AA.com.png
     
  6. r0m8470

    r0m8470 Silver Member

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    Thank you for all the replies.

    Yes, I looked at different permutations with different hubs. I guess I need to clarify as well that I am not looking to book award ticket that involves BA on the trans-atlantic segment due to the fees. I think that narrows my choice quite a bit I know. We're also trying to decide whether we want to fly coach or business. We like business - duh, who doesn't - but it's a bit harder to get.

    We also live in the west coast, Seatac is our home airport, so the connection to the east coast gateway cities can be challenging. We've seen flight options where we fly to LA first, the connect to ORD, before crossing the pond. Or going to MIA, or worse, to LGA then have to hop on a cab to JFK.

    I think we may have to get the longest segment first, like the JFK (or any US gateway) to <insert OneWorld hub city in Europe) here, and use our SW points to fly from SEA to the gateway city. The problem with that is I think we have to start super early, or fly red eye, or even spend 1 night in NYC or near JFK as staging point.

    We flew to ZRH last year and we took advantage of the 1 way stopover rule (which is no more per my understanding), and even though it was an AA coach flight from JFK to ZRH, for less than $50 for two, we really could not complain. We booked close to 6 months ahead at that time.

    One option that looks very promising to us is we'll fly to Europe on AA on coach award ticket, then fly home to Canada on UA (or its partner) to Canada on business. We'll spend a day or two in either Toronto or Montreal before flying home on regular paid coach tickets.

    What I don't anticipate with the FF thing is, it is kinda addictive and if I am not careful, can make me unproductive for the whole day ... or more!
     
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  7. pointsguy2

    pointsguy2 Member

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    half year is the best time to book i think
     
  8. gmarchetti

    gmarchetti Silver Member

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    SeaTac is my home airport too. Western Europe can be challenging, as BA is stingy over the summer and Delta pretty much all year from here, much worse than KLM / AF were. Lufthansa releases more award space than those, but not necessarily to United. I typically try and book as early as possible, then may change the bookings if new opportunities open up. For instance, Vancouver-London is often easier to find than Seattle-London. I'll book that to secure the trip and if possible change later.
     

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