We spent all our money on the wedding. Now we need cheap flights.
March 2, 2012 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Do any travel agents or seasoned international frequent flyers know when the price sweet spot is to book a cheap flight from Brisbane Australia to Los Angeles?

We are flying to LAX from BNE (Brisbane) in Australia late August this year for 6 or 7 weeks for our honeymoon. So it's nearly 6 months away. Air fares are over $2000AUD at present.

I've flown this leg before and it normally costs around $1200 - but I would normally book closer to the travel time to get that price. This time, I would like to get fares booked and out of the way sooner rather than later.

Is it better to book earlier or later? Is there a magic point say, 12 weeks before flying that travellers seem to get the best deals?
posted by dinoworx to Travel & Transportation around Calabasas Highlands, CA (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think the prices varies a lot more by season than by how far in advance you book your ticket- i.e. it's expensive to fly in August because that's when people in the US take summer vacation, and it's a lot cheaper to fly in Oct/Nov because it's a slow time for international tourism. The United SYD to LAX flight is almost always the cheapest way to go- their planes aren't that great (no individual tvs) but usually they are a few hundred dollars cheaper than Qantas. So I'd keep an eye on the United Airlines website. Webjet.com occasionally does sales on international flights so it might be worth getting on their mailing list.
posted by emd3737 at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2012

I've used Zuji to find sweet deals. I keep screen window open on my laptop for a few weeks and check a few times a day/night. The best times for price crashes I've found are Tuesday mornings and Saturday nights [I'm in Perth so adjust a few hours] - to give an example: a return flight to London in peak season is usuallybest-price $2400ish but I've found good airlines and flight times for $1100-1200. Good luck!
posted by honey-barbara at 7:25 PM on March 2, 2012

I use ITA Software and do "See calendar of lowest fares" searches, and then re-check them regularly. At the moment, it shows fares in August starting at about $1600 and plenty under $2000. You can't book through the site, but I usually then just go to the airline site and enter the dates and book through them.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:18 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: honey-barbara, how far out were those flight listings that were dropping so much? That's our key question: Is there a time window that we should wait before really trying? As there is still 5+ months before our dates.

All good info so far. Thanks
posted by dinoworx at 9:43 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: As mentioned above, it may be more of a seasonal thing that affects the cost of the ticket. Also, if it's international flight it's hard to come up with a "formula" like they do for domestic flights, which are for the most part predictable.

I used to regularly book long haul flights and at a point you can come up with the "sweet" spot, which never really showed up on Kayak.com (the only website I've really checked for good deals) in that best price box on the right side of the screen. Between Beijing/Shanghai and Honolulu, the cheapest time of the year was always in May (600 USD); any other month such as December was always at least double in the best case scenario. Between Boston and Honolulu, it was always Dec and January which was rock bottom. Any other month was always around 20% more expensive.

From my own experiences, flying domestic in Australia, it was always cheapest to book the week of the flight. But this isn't the case for domestic flights in the US; around 3-6 weeks before seemed to be the best prices.

Besides going around the internet looking for the best-of prices, I'd just settle with a price you're comfortable with for flying out. Otherwise you'd go crazy looking for deals and what-if situations.
posted by peachtree at 11:22 PM on March 2, 2012

I've done both a few months ahead, and right up to 2 days before flying. I just refreshed Zuji every day to check in from whenever I've started making plans. My experience is that in the week before flying the price doesn't go down as dramatically [eg I flew to London for $1600. The $1200 flights a few weeks/over a month before] The hard part is taking the plunge and buying when the flights drop in price without getting hung up on whether it will go even lower. If you start checking in now for a month, you'll get an idea of how low they're going to go overall.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2012

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