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best time to buy flights

Kiwi-family

{Rachael, the Mama of the family}
Time of past OR future Camino
walking every day for the rest of my life
Someone mentioned earlier that the best time to book a flight for a spring camino is just after Halloween....is there an ideal time to book for an early September camino? Flying from Australia/New Zealand
 
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there are a few websites that track historical fare data ( faredetective) , google flights etc but there is no guarantee that it will show best price etc as the variables are numerous ..oil prices , unrest .. currency fluctuations..
 
Airfares have been brutal since the pandemic wound down, but I'm guessing you know that. So I don't believe the historical data out there is relevant to current fares.

I have had some luck with one-way flights though - Vietnam Airlines. Singapore Airlines, Turkish, Thai, Cathay Pacific.

And by luck I mean one-ways for a not ridiculous amount more than half a pre-pandemic return fare.

I sign up for marketing emails from likely airlines, and I spend hours upon hours on momondo (like google flights), getting notified of any change in fares.

Assuming you're in NZ, Fiji Airways have some shiny new planes, and fly via Nadi to some places from where more competition may land you a decent fare. Singapore I believe, and west coast USA. Or Scoot / Air Asia to Singapore / KL maybe?

The Mainland China airlines were known for cheap fares pre-pandemic. Not so much since, but here's hoping.
 
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Someone mentioned earlier that the best time to book a flight for a spring camino is just after Halloween....is there an ideal time to book for an early September camino? Flying from Australia/New Zealand
I usually book my flight 6-8 weeks out. I do check ticket prices frequently over the year to get an idea of what the cost usually is and to see if there is a discount somewhere along the way. Sign up for notifications from your airlines for seat sales.

*I know many people book their tickets months and months in advance. Whenever you book, especially for long flights, always, ALWAYS, pay for the upgrade for a bulkhead/exit row seat to give yourself some extra space. I like being able to stretch my legs out :D
 
I usually book my flight 6-8 weeks out. I do check ticket prices frequently over the year to get an idea of what the cost usually is and to see if there is a discount somewhere along the way. Sign up for notifications from your airlines for seat sales.

*I know many people book their tickets months and months in advance. Whenever you book, especially for long flights, always, ALWAYS, pay for the upgrade for a bulkhead/exit row seat to give yourself some extra space. I like being able to stretch my legs out :D
The problem (I am told) with checking ticket prices regularly is that the airlines notice an interest on particular dates from the number of hits on their sites and then up the prices accordingly 🤷‍♂️. A chap that arranged our flights forbade us from checking ourselves for that reason and when prices were low enough than said ‘BUY!’
 
Someone mentioned earlier that the best time to book a flight for a spring camino is just after Halloween....is there an ideal time to book for an early September camino? Flying from Australia/New Zealand
The major airlines release their schedules around 12 months ahead to loyalty programs, and around 11 months ahead to the general public. On some routes, cheaper seats get taken very quickly along with those that can be booked with loyalty points like frequent flyer points arrangements. You are likely to have missed that phase of the price cycle for flights next September.

Your next option is to keep an eye on the market. My wife and I find this easier if one joins the mailing lists for the major airlines that we have. In Australia, this is relatively simple. Otherwise, you could enrol in one of the booking engines and express interest in a particular route, and let them notify you when prices change. However you do this, you want to know when airlines put seats up on sale. Note that Qantas has already had one round of sale price fares on some seats into European destinations for the coming (European) summer. Whether this will get repeated for other travel classes is difficult to know.

After that, we find that there are cheaper days to travel, and if you have the flexibility to move your travel dates, even one or two days earlier or later can make several hundred dollars difference on a return trip to Europe.

I agree with @K_Lynn's advice to look for extra legroom seats when you are booking. I have recently booked travel to walk one of the St Olavs Ways next Jun, and there were flights where all of the more attractive seats, both extra legroom and others, had already been taken. As a side note, not all extra legroom seats are created equal. I always check Seat Guru to see if there are any issues before selecting from those that are available.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
As far as when to buy, I think a google search will tell you quickly that there is no certainty about any of this. Lots of authoritative pronouncements about when is the best time to buy, but no agreement. I think it's just a crap shoot. You may find a great deal six months out, you may find a great deal three weeks out. If you watch flights regularly you will see amazing changes -- a flight I'm currently watching has gone up and down between $12,786 and $4,350 in the past couple of months. This is a flight for next April, and I have been checking a few times a week. I am now familiar enough with the range of prices, I think, to know when to jump on a ticket.

The problem (I am told) with checking ticket prices regularly is that the airlines notice an interest on particular dates from the number of hits on their sites and then up the prices accordingly 🤷‍♂️. A chap that arranged our flights forbade us from checking ourselves for that reason and when prices were low enough than said ‘BUY!’
I know that this is frequently said on the forum, but I have yet to see any evidence that it really happens. The example I just gave of my own searching recently suggests that it's definitely not the case because the prices have been flipping up and down, not gradually moving upwards.

This article makes sense to me, but of course there's no data to back up those claims either.

I think the best thing to do is to start searching when you have fixed dates, give yourself some time to get familiar with the going fares, and then jump on one when you see a good price. Last year I found business class tickets that were cheaper than premium economy on the very same webpage. Inexplicable, but you can guess which one I bought.
 
The problem (I am told) with checking ticket prices regularly is that the airlines notice an interest on particular dates from the number of hits on their sites and then up the prices accordingly 🤷‍♂️. A chap that arranged our flights forbade us from checking ourselves for that reason and when prices were low enough than said ‘BUY!’
Do you have a VPN?
 
I obsessively lurk on Google Flights, and it really is a crapshoot. I just bought a one way ticket from KL, Malaysia to Paris for $330 on Singapore Airlines for 28 Dec. The caveat? An 18 hour layover in Singapore-fine by me because Changi is a nice airport.

.....Also, I just love airports.

And I do recommend getting a VPN, so you can switch up the IP location.
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
I should have added earlier - I look for flights not necessarily to / from where I want to be. Then get to / from there with a budget airline. I only do this where flight costs are substantially lower than flying direct. Overall cost usually works out higher, when including stopover ground costs, but we do get to have a stopover in places we may not otherwise go. Copenhagen, Istanbul, Paris, London, Hong Kong. Why not?
Finding these fares is where the many online hours are spent.

I notice fares out of Milan are often cheaper than most. We may have to spend some time exploring Northern Italy in the future!

I suppose the most relevant for you re timing of bookings are our post-Camino flights out of Madrid. I booked those in the past two weeks, flying Cathay at the end of June. I have been monitoring fares out of western / southern Europe since they became available, so since mid-July-ish. These Cathay fares were amongst the best I'd seen, so I pounced. Not great fares, just the best I'd seen. Flying out of Madrid saves us that connecting fight. Plus, Hong Kong stopover!

There were three Cathay flights that suited our dates. Two of those days were cheaper than the third. Since I booked, fares on the day we are flying have increased as well. This is, I believe, yield management on the part of the airline. They may drop fares if the flight fails to fill, or may increase fares if the plane is filling nicely. It really is a crapshoot for us consumers.

The Cathay flights, MAD-HKG-BKK, are AUD $1050 each. Which stings, but peak season. There were ~$100 cheaper flights on Turkish, but we have already been to Istanbul.

Our Singapore Airlines flights Bangkok - London were booked in May 2023 for March 2024, AUD $550 each one-way. (We're having a month in the UK before our Camino.) LHR-Toulouse is $140 each.

I find that Emirates and Qatar fares seem to be staying high btw, and they had some of the best fares pre-pandemic. Perhaps people are booking with them out of habit. I'm also seeing Thai and Thai AirAsia X fares start to ease Bangkok-Sydney though, where we fly quite frequently, so hopefully the post-pandemic gouging is coming to an end.
 

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