Book fall flight US to Europe now or later (very light flurries inside)?
May 10, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Planning Ahead Filter: My travel buddy already has a ticket on Airline A (ATL-LHR round trip) for our planned trip together in November. (Miles & awards redeemed so she is set). We're deciding what to do about my ticket.

Most desirable is for us to be on the same flight. However, there is a flight on Competitor B that leaves/arrives within 90 minutes of hers and there are likely more flights that are pretty close too.
Here are the options as I see them. Please help me think of what I may be missing and/or given your experience with booking in advance and prices, what might you decide?
1) Book my flight on Airline A now. Pros: I can get $100 off with my airline partner credit card, I get a seat with my friend, I get FF miles on my preferred airline, I'm done fretting about the trip. Cons: The ticket after the savings is $1250. Yow. I might do better by waiting.
2) Book my flight on Competitor B now. Pros: I get Economy Plus one way for about the same price as the other airline or regular for a bit cheaper. Cons: Not on same flight, not huge savings, still may do better by waiting.
3) Wait to buy. Pro: May get a sale if Europe in mid-late Nov proves to be unpopular. This is just one pro but a potentially big one. There are a lot of empty seats on my friend's flights. Cons: Prices may go up, I may miss my chance on either of these airlines and end up on ShoeBoxAir with a day layover in Podunk.

I'm torn on this one - I usually am great advising other people on issues like this but my anxiety is getting in my way since this is personal. Your wisdom would be welcome. Bonus for gentle, snarkfree answers :)
posted by pointystick to Travel & Transportation around London, England (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You will almost certainly do better by waiting, and there may still be seats on the same flight. Even if there aren't, you're both grownups and you can totally handle being on a separate flight and meeting up at your destination.

It's not even a matter of a "sale". It's just never ever cheaper to book a flight 6+ months in advance. Usually the sweet spot is 6-12 weeks before the flight.
posted by Sara C. at 11:49 AM on May 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tickets will almost certainly be cheaper 4-8 weeks out from the trip at the cost of limited seat selection. Jet fuel is up in cost this year and that's keeping flights more expensive. It's speculation, but I'd guess that the best you're going to do is ~$1,000 with all fees.

I get a seat with my friend

If you *like* being social on airplanes, I would consider spending a little more money to have a pair of more enjoyable flights talking and hanging out with a friend rather than being wedged between two strangers. If you're going to sleep the whole time, this is less of a factor. If her ticket allows her to change seats, you can afford to wait for prices to go down a bit and then find a pair of seats together.

Taking multiple flights can be a headache if something happens to throw off the schedule of a flight and often leaves someone bored in an airport when they'd desperately like to be elsewhere or drives up costs of things by not being able to split cabs and the like.
posted by Candleman at 12:57 PM on May 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd wait and book on Airline A as others noted. November is not a super popular time to travel to Europe, so you can do much better. Keep an eye on the fares. You should be able to get something in the $8-900 range (possibly cheaper). I'd set a fare alert in Hipmunk to give you the latest feedback.

You can usually (have done this successfully multiple times on various airlines) ask the gate agent to sit you together and they usually will help you out if the flight isn't really crazily booked.
posted by chiefthe at 6:03 PM on May 10, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, for what its worth, I fly LHR-SFO almost every November for business. And I usually book a month in advance (I never know the exact dates until about then).

I've never paid more than about $1000 USD.
posted by vacapinta at 1:25 AM on May 11, 2014

« Older How NOT to be like the nerdy scientist on The...   |   Hiring some sort of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.