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Best time to book flights?

Brian E

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May/June 2018
May 2019
Sept 2019
May 2020
Hey all,
So I was going to walk the entire Camino a few years back but circumstances changed but still have longed to do it and will now take 2 weeks off work {instead of quitting and taking a nice long break was the original plan). I will go from St. Jean to Burgos in May 2018. I have started looking at flights and in just two weeks time prices have jumped up around $300-$400. It is 10 months out but my question is if there is a 'sweet spot' so to speak on when to buy flights? I realize world events, unexpected supply/demand fluctuations, etc. can play into it but disregarding all that what is the best time and how far out have people found to buy on the cheap(est)?

If it helps I will be flying into Paris from Colorado and will be returning from Madrid back to Denver.
 
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Anemone del Camino

Guest
When ever you see a price you are comfortable with, take it and call it a day. Why start playing the anxiety game for a few dollars you will spend buying too many bottles of vini tinto?
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I can't normally access ricksteves.com so I'm not sure how good his information is but if you go to his website and use the search box for best time to buy tickets you should get something worthwhile. For that manner you may as well enter the same query in this forum's search box.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Sept. ( 2017) Norte, Aug. 2018 Primitivo,Sept. (2018)
Hey all,
So I was going to walk the entire Camino a few years back but circumstances changed but still have longed to do it and will now take 2 weeks off work {instead of quitting and taking a nice long break was the original plan). I will go from St. Jean to Burgos in May 2018. I have started looking at flights and in just two weeks time prices have jumped up around $300-$400. It is 10 months out but my question is if there is a 'sweet spot' so to speak on when to buy flights? I realize world events, unexpected supply/demand fluctuations, etc. can play into it but disregarding all that what is the best time and how far out have people found to buy on the cheap(est)?

If it helps I will be flying into Paris from Colorado and will be returning from Madrid back to Denver.

Hey Brian, I'm not sure there is a solid answer to your question. I've been watching the prices jump all over the place for the last 6 months. I'm leaving in 7 wks for my first Camino and I just bought my tickets this morning. I got, what I think is a really good deal that worked for me, a round trip ticket from Denver to Paris for $490.00 on British Airways. Return 8 wks later Paris to Houston direct then up to Denver. Depends on how lucky you feel in waiting for last minute flight deals. Check out the travel site "Momando" best prices I found. good luck!
 

Gumba

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Can you ask a travel agent? In Australia all the airlines have significant sales in October. That is when I will be purchasing our tickets for 2018. Good luck.
 
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Checkout Google flights and you can look at different days and fares, plus you can track flights and get rate changes in your inbox.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
my question is if there is a 'sweet spot' so to speak on when to buy flights?
There is a sweet spot for airlines SELLING tickets. They have decades of data to mine, and their yield management programs look at past sales and future open seats, and set prices accordingly. It would be theoretically possible for 300 passengers to buy tickets at 300 different prices, but as a practical matter that does not happen. Any internet search will result in some theories about the best time to buy, but it is all second guessing the sophisticated yield management programs at each airline. When tickets are first available, they will be at their peak. As the departure approaches, they probably will rise to that peak. In between it will be a sine wave as they seek to get all the traffic will bear. About all you can hope for in air travel these days is that they won't drag you out of your seat and knock your teeth out...
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
A tip: Let's say you find a good fare but you want to think about it and maybe shop around just a bit more but you don't find anything. So you go back to the site in a few days to buy. But the price has gone up. Crank up another browser that you never used for fare shopping (so it is airline cookie clean) and try to buy using that browser. You may end up getting the fare cheaper. Using just the original browser the fare may have gone up because it has gone up for everyone or it may have just gone up for only you because the airline has noticed (through cookies and your site browsing history) that you are really interested in one flight and figures that you may pay more. There is debate about whether airlines (or other shopping sites) really do individual price adjustments but using a second, cookie clean browser for a double check isn't going to hurt.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Hey all,
So I was going to walk the entire Camino a few years back but circumstances changed but still have longed to do it and will now take 2 weeks off work {instead of quitting and taking a nice long break was the original plan). I will go from St. Jean to Burgos in May 2018. I have started looking at flights and in just two weeks time prices have jumped up around $300-$400. It is 10 months out but my question is if there is a 'sweet spot' so to speak on when to buy flights? I realize world events, unexpected supply/demand fluctuations, etc. can play into it but disregarding all that what is the best time and how far out have people found to buy on the cheap(est)?

If it helps I will be flying into Paris from Colorado and will be returning from Madrid back to Denver.
Hi, Brian and welcome to the forum,

What amount would still be acceptable for your budget?
 

Brian E

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May/June 2018
May 2019
Sept 2019
May 2020
Hi, Brian and welcome to the forum,

What amount would still be acceptable for your budget?
Hello! Roundtrip plus a flight from Paris to Biarritz I was hoping to get under $1700 in total. Maybe $1300 for roundtrip multicity and another $200 or so for the Paris/Biarritz flight would seem possible (definitely not at the moment however and prices have spiked). Nothing is make or break but if I could save a few hundred bucks or so by waiting or 'trying to time' things then I am all for it.
 
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A Sime

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-Santiango (2012), Oslo-Trondheim, Norway (2015), LePuy-SJtPdP-(2017 Sept).
Hello! Roundtrip plus a flight from Paris to Biarritz I was hoping to get under $1700 in total. Maybe $1300 for roundtrip multicity and another $200 or so for the Paris/Biarritz flight would seem possible (definitely not at the moment however and prices have spiked). Nothing is make or break but if I could save a few hundred bucks or so by waiting or 'trying to time' things then I am all for it.
I happened to get a ticket on American RT from Chicago to Paris for this Sept Camino for $400. And Delta was offering the same. It was black Friday, the day after the US Thanksgiving. And it was non-stop. I don't think it could go lower. Just an FYI.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Hello! Roundtrip plus a flight from Paris to Biarritz I was hoping to get under $1700 in total. Maybe $1300 for roundtrip multicity and another $200 or so for the Paris/Biarritz flight would seem possible (definitely not at the moment however and prices have spiked). Nothing is make or break but if I could save a few hundred bucks or so by waiting or 'trying to time' things then I am all for it.
I did a quick search for Denver - Paris - Biarritz + Madrid - Denver. With strictly 2 weeks time frame and just for flying out in the first week of May 2018.

Without ticket to Biarritz the lowest fares are on 1st, 7th and 8th of May at 881 € = 1.010 USD. Landing is at CDG (Charles de Gaulle) but from there I couldn't find any direct flight to Biarritz under 206€ = 236 USD, so that would sum up at 1250 USD approx.
But there are flights from CDG to BIQ although through Lisbon which takes approx.4 hours altogether. And the lowest fares are 86€ = 99 USD so that would be 1.110 USD. You would still have time to get to Bayonne and SJPdP that afternoon.

When I included Biarritz to the search the lowest is on May 1st at 944 € = 1080 USD but with transfer from CDG to Orly (ORY).
I searched some more and think I found the cheapest option at 931 € = 1.068 USD
See the screen shot: https://prnt.sc/fwsbq0
DEN - ORY with only 1 hour stop in Reykjavik (both flights operated by Icelandair): https://prnt.sc/fwsd0v
ORY - BIQ with only one and a half hour to change planes which might be too tight I think but maybe others have more experience with ORY airport: https://prnt.sc/fwse2i
MAD - DEN is a bit of a drag with two stops in Lisbon (13 hours) and Newark: https://prnt.sc/fwsf35

So I'd say there are plenty of options to play around. It just takes fair amount of time but can also save some money.

Happy planning :)

PS (Forgot to mentioned that I was using www.skyscanner.com)
 

Brian E

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May/June 2018
May 2019
Sept 2019
May 2020
I did a quick search for Denver - Paris - Biarritz + Madrid - Denver. With strictly 2 weeks time frame and just for flying out in the first week of May 2018.

Without ticket to Biarritz the lowest fares are on 1st, 7th and 8th of May at 881 € = 1.010 USD. Landing is at CDG (Charles de Gaulle) but from there I couldn't find any direct flight to Biarritz under 206€ = 236 USD, so that would sum up at 1250 USD approx.
But there are flights from CDG to BIQ although through Lisbon which takes approx.4 hours altogether. And the lowest fares are 86€ = 99 USD so that would be 1.110 USD. You would still have time to get to Bayonne and SJPdP that afternoon.

When I included Biarritz to the search the lowest is on May 1st at 944 € = 1080 USD but with transfer from CDG to Orly (ORY).
I searched some more and think I found the cheapest option at 931 € = 1.068 USD
See the screen shot: https://prnt.sc/fwsbq0
DEN - ORY with only 1 hour stop in Reykjavik (both flights operated by Icelandair): https://prnt.sc/fwsd0v
ORY - BIQ with only one and a half hour to change planes which might be too tight I think but maybe others have more experience with ORY airport: https://prnt.sc/fwse2i
MAD - DEN is a bit of a drag with two stops in Lisbon (13 hours) and Newark: https://prnt.sc/fwsf35

So I'd say there are plenty of options to play around. It just takes fair amount of time but can also save some money.

Happy planning :)

PS (Forgot to mentioned that I was using www.skyscanner.com)
I appreciate you taking the time to do some research. I keep forgetting about the Orly airport as an option as well in Paris. Well, at least I am starting to look and think about things early enough so am sure I will come up with something reasonably priced. If not, the Camino beckons regardless.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (part)
2021 (?): Via Francigena, Aosta to Rome
Wow, I can only dream of ticket prices that low!

I've become semi-pro at finding affordable airfare to far away places, and my main observation is that there isn't a pattern. I've seen all the advice from the real pros (i.e., always buy on Tuesday morning, or there's a 'sweet spot' to buy x-months out, etc), but it all seems to be wishful thinking.

I think you're best bet is to make friends with one of the airfare search engines. ITA Matrix 3.0 is my personal favorite, but there are others. You can search all the airfares for a given month, you can search using multiple potential stops (i.e, set your return from with Madrid or Lisbon or Barcelona), and see what comes up.

I just did a quick search, and got results similar to what KinkyOne found on skyscanner.

Two more sites, if you really want to waste some time on a Monday morning: RouteHappy grades individual flights, and tells you who feeds you and how much leg room you'll get, while SeatGuru discusses the best and worst seats on different planes.
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
England C2C 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Le Puy ... someday.
I've used the Matrix mentioned above for years. You can't buy on the site but it lists every combination in the world and then you buy at the individual airline sites. Skyscanner is another site I use that finds routing that I may not think of. And MichaelC, whoever came up with SeatGuru is a genius. The train equivalent is Seat61, helpful if you're curious about the view on either side of the train. Google Mileage Runners to see sites for travelers finding deals just to earn airline points for really cheap fares.

Instead of flying to Biarritz, have you thought of just taking the train out of CDG south? It's a nice way to relax after an overnight flight and if things go well, you can be in St Jean by dinnertime. Bahn.de is a useful tool for European train schedules...click the English tab in the top right unless you speak German.

I usually end up with about $900 Den-Europe RT so those folks that found the $400ish fares hit the jackpot!
 
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Brian E

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May/June 2018
May 2019
Sept 2019
May 2020
So anyone familiar with CDG airport: Would 1.5 hours be enough time to catch the train to St. Jean? That seems tight given customs, delays, etc. Or the other option I am looking at would be catch a flight to Biarritz which is a 2 hour layover at CDG. I hear that airport is pretty big and can be confusing...
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I just saw a report on NBC Nightly News. They report August 21 and 22 this year as the date of cheapest airfares. One was for domestic (US) flights and the other for international flights. An advanced Google search for airfare and "August 21" for pages updated within the last week should help you out.
 

Walter James Palmer

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017 Porto-santiago
I had Google watch flights for me (other services will do this too). You can watch them fluctuate for awhile, then just pick one.
 

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