Finding Low Airfares in Advance
August 27, 2004 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Airfarefilter. I already know the dates for a trip next August. It's possible to drive (approx 12 hours), and we did drive this year, but it might be nice to fly instead. Clearly its not possible to book flights this far in advance, but starting the search for low fares early should have some advantage. What are some good strategies for finding low airfares and when should I start to implement them?

For more details, the trip in question is for GenCon in Indianapolis, from Jul 28-31, 2005, from New Jersey. I know Indianapolis is a Continental hub, and late July/August is not a time I know of any blackout dates...
posted by Karmakaze to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Response by poster: OK. I was wrong, it's August 11, 2005 - August 14, 2005, but still it should not be balckout dates.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2004

Well, for one thing, you can't even buy tickets for those dates yet. Figure out who flies into Indianapolis the most, and watch their site to see when tickets go on sale.
posted by jjg at 10:59 AM on August 27, 2004

Response by poster: That was part of what I was asking. If I know ticket sales open up in, say, May, then I could just leave myself a calendar reminder and forget about it until then.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2004

Most booking services use SABRE, and it doesn't let you book a flight more than 331 days in advance, so you can't quite book it yet, as jjg indicated. As far as how to get cheap tickets, I have no real idea.
posted by mragreeable at 11:20 AM on August 27, 2004

Go to travelocity and set up a farewatched to alert you when the fare falls below a level you consider reasonable, or drops by a certain amount. It won't get you the absolutely lowest fare available, but when travelocity warns you of a price drop, go and look at various other sources (orbitz, southwest, etc) and check their fares, as well.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2004
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on August 27, 2004

Your choice of strategy may depend in part on what airlines fly most frequently into Indianapolis, and whether you're a member of their frequent-flyer programs.

...with so much time remaining before the flight, you can easily acquire enough frequent flyer points to snag a free flight. Careful attention to the various "partner company" offers associated with the frequent flyer program will help.

If you don't want to do that, then I would recommend jacquilynne's approach, or the low-tech equivalent of simply checking major airfare websites every month or so. You'll probably run across multiple fare sales during this timeframe, at least some of which will run long enough to cover the dates you want.

If you want to risk last-minute buying, you could try things like, lastminutetravel, etc., which offer package deals at relatively low rates.
posted by aramaic at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2004

Go to and sign up for their email. If you're near Philly, it looks like you should be able to book $79 round trips eventually. Unfortunately I don't think they fly out of Newark. Just scan the email until your flight shows up...most flights usually show up at the reduced rate and you've got time.
posted by jacobsee at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2004 But some of the cheapo airlines like Southwest have fares that don't show up on mob or orbitz or travelocity so what jacobsee just said.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:42 PM on August 27, 2004

Crud - here's the link
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:43 PM on August 27, 2004

I have heard that airlines release cheaper fares closer to the date of the flight. It does make sense, why would they allow people to buy lower fares early if they can sell full fare tickets? I agree on the Southwest angle, also newspaper travel pages usually have good fare deals.
posted by jonah at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2004

You can setup a account thing for free, and they have a toolbar that checks for best fares every day. Keep an eye on that, just to see how low the fares fluctuate, and when the time comes wait for the cheap rates.
posted by graventy at 4:43 PM on August 27, 2004

Well, in the pre-internet days, shopping early for airfares was a good strategy. Things are more complicated now. You might very well get a fine fare the week before you go, but you might not. Best bet is to start using some of the sources people have linked above to see what's out there -- maybe pick a closer date and pretend to want a flight then just to see what kind of fares show up. Keep checking from time to time to see what sort of fluctuation there is. Decide, based on that, how much your fare is likely to be. By the time you really need to think about booking, you'll know a good deal when you see one.

Actually, Mo Nickels, it's never too early to buy that coffin. Go for it.
posted by JanetLand at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2004

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