Friday, August 10, 2012


When to Buy a Plane Ticket

2. The cheapest times to buy vacation tickets are…

…the end of August/beginning of September and the end of December/beginning of January.

Go away soon! Via "Travel Tips From the Pros," courtesy the Wall Street Journal. (Some are a little more practical than others.) This reminds me of the slogan at the travel agency near where I grew up — "Go away, often" — which I didn't understand for 23 years.

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I was wondering why most of the tips were for business travelers and why the "what to wear for work" piece it linked to suggested investing in a pair of $500 shoes and a good tailor, and then realized that it was from the WSJ.

But the "when to buy tickets" thing was helpful, anyway. And gate agents really are in charge.


@cheerybeggar Alllllllllways be nice to the gate agent.


@Mira Ugh my ex never understood that! He was always a dick to EVERYONE if he didn't get his way and I had to swoop in and do damage control.
I sincerely love traveling by myself.


That "when to buy tickets" section is so timely. I'm looking to book a trip in November and would love a break on the prices...


I literally JUST booked plane tickets about 3 minutes before seeing this. YOU'RE NEVER THERE WHEN I NEED YOU, WSJ.


very timely indeed! i'm trying to decide whether to go to a new year's eve wedding in saskatchewan

pros: knowing i have a place to dress up on new year's and of course celebrating my friend's marriage

cons: it's in saskatchewan (somebody make me feel bad for saying this is a con, it will be fun right?!)
it will cost me $700 to fly to saskatchewan (current ticket price)
i don't get a plus one (i don't have a plus one anyway)
awkward presence of frenemies (this could be a pro in a certain light)

i mean, i'll probably end up going. if i can find tickets for less than $700 that is.


@redheaded&crazie going to sask. is always expensive, whenever it is. winnipeg and calgary are always cheaper. but driving from either city in the middle of winter?


@robyn.andrews i hadn't even considered this option so i looked into the possibility (even though the winter driving would scare me). It's like a 7-9 hour drive! aieeee. this is gonna be interesting.

RK Fire

@redheaded&crazie: If 7-9 hours is too long, how does 3.5-4.5 hours sound? Drive, stop halfway, crash, wrap it up the next morning. Or could you carpool with a friend?


@RK Fire That could still backfire during a) the holiday season and b) winter in Saskatchewan (which is unpredictable at best)


do they mean buy as in "buy them to travel during this time" or buy as in "buy them now to travel in the future"? bc I always thought the week btwn xmas and NYE was a really busy time bc everyone is seeing family for the holidays? and thats one of my only two weeks off this year so I was pretty bummed. maybe I can go away that week?!


@cd Yeah, I was confused about that, too. Does it mean I should buy my holiday plane tickets in a couple weeks or does it mean that I should plan to go on vacation from late Dec/early Jan? Because I remember from traveling when I was a student that these tickets were all really expensive...so I'm leaning towards the reading of that point that leans towards, "Hey kids, go buy your tickets in a few weeks, everyone is burnt out from traveling and therefore unlikely to be in the mood to plan more trips."

RK Fire

@cd: I think they mean "buy them during those dates to travel in the future."


@nervousrobot i'm hoping that if i look for tickets FOR Dec/Jan IN late aug/sept maybe there will be some kind of discount!

probably not though. h8 u canada.

the jackal

@cd I'm pretty sure the advice is to travel during those time periods. The past two winters, I've gotten the best prices on flights leaving on December 26 one year and another on December 31. Most people want to stay in and celebrate on these days, not spend 20 hours in the air (I live in Asia, family in the States).


the other tip, about maybe doing some insanely invasive program might be worth it. for 100$ to wait in fewer lines


Ah, timely! I know that Tuesday is a good day to buy tickets AND a good day to fly out, generally, but I didn't know about times of year. I want to go visit my best friend for Thanksgiving again in Chicago, but...I also only have four vacation days and I knowwww I'll want moooooore. I am glad I get vacation days at all, but I wish we got them more quickly. I think by November I'll have six?


I am on a plane RIGHT NOW! On the internet! It is the future! (but seriously - pro tip - Delta is running a contest right now where you can win free internets and they are giving away passes like candy. Good through the end of August!)

RK Fire

@HeyThatsMyBike: Can you post a link? I just checked out their website with no luck.


@RK Fire Not sure if you have to be in the air or not because you need a seat #. But it's called the Lucky Seat contest and you can for sure enter when you're on the plane.
But here's a link that may or may not work on the ground!

RK Fire

@HeyThatsMyBike: Ah thanks! It doesn't seem to work, I think you have to be connected into their wifi: Uh oh! The Gogo Lucky Seat Instant Win Game can only be accessed during a Gogo-equipped flight from the air. Check if Gogo is available on your next flight for a chance to win big while flying classy.


@RK Fire Ah, so you can't plan in advance. But they are giving away like 25,000 passes, so if you're flying between now and the end of the month, keep it in mind!!


Can we talk about how stupidly expensive trips to London are? I was looking at tickets for MAY, and it's still $800 with a 5 hour layover in Helsinki. Whaaaaat.


So maybe I'll wait until the end of this month to look at prices again.


@meetapossum Don't get me started. Trips to Thailand are insane. My sister's been working there, so I've been searching, and even with planning 5 months away, tickets were still $1,700.


@The Kendragon At one point last year I was looking at tickets, and it was cheaper to fly to Hawaii.

I mean, I flew to England for $630 total in 2009. I know it was 3 years ago, but shit.


@meetapossum I'm left with only one conclusion. We must swim.


@meetapossum I think flights have gotten lots more expensive. There were CRAZY sales and promos in 2009. We just booked tickets to Dublin for next month and I think wound up paying around $1100 pp. it sucks. Also who the hell connects through Helsinki?


@smack Right?? And you have to fly PAST LONDON to get to Helsinki. I mean, I guess if I had some time to hang around Finland it would be cool, but 5 hours doesn't really allow for that.

Faintly Macabre

@meetapossum Whaaa? Where are you looking? I paid $300 for my one-way to Paris for September. That was on an under-26 site, but sites like cheapoair had round-trips to Paris for about $700. Some people in my program are flying into London and taking Eurostar because it made an even cheaper round-trip. Then again, May's probably way more expensive than mid-September...


@Faintly Macabre I use Kayak, usually. I might change it to April, if flights are cheaper. I just like to have an extra free vacation day (Memorial Day, in this case, but in 2009 I did the beginning of September for Labor Day). Looking at that site I get the same prices, though at least it's a non-stop for $900.

Faintly Macabre

@meetapossum I'd heard a lot about Kayak, but I found they didn't offer the greatest Europe fares, in my limited searching. If you're under 26 or a student or teacher, though, STATravel is crazy cheap. I wish I could remember the other site that had really reasonable fares, though...maybe it was TripAdvisor?

Plane tickets are so weird. I'm probably buying some AA miles off my mom to fly home, but when I looked at the normal fares for one-way from Paris to Newark in June, it was like $4000! One way!


@Faintly Macabre I am none of those things :(

I like Kayak because I can tag flights and get price alerts, and they compare the price from week to week and say, "Wait a bit, it can get cheaper" or "You should buy now! It's going to go up!" and are usually right. I got a cheap-o ticket to Denver in May that way.

You're probably right about their Euro prices, though. Someone mentioned another site to me that's better for that, but I have to search through the 'Pin to find it again.

For some reason, one-way tickets are often more expensive than round-trip. I also never will understand why 1- or 2-stop flights cost less than non-stop, even if you fly over your final destination.


@meetapossum Ah, it was via a Pinner on Tumbler. momondo.com


That is one of the good things about having a mother who had to travel for at least one week of every month for most of my childhood.
I'm aces at finding cheap plane tickets. I've also been to a lot of places.

I'm hiding this article from my boyfriend though. He's in HARDCORE "Meet my mom" mode. (We've only been dating for a month and his mom has NEVER liked any of his girlfriends. So I'm not exactly all gung-ho for that particular trip.)
Huh. When is a good time to meet the parents when you're in a grown up relationship. Pretty sure this is my first.


@The Kendragon


For real? Just swallow the dread and do it. But insist on staying in a hotel. Also try to plan 'activities' so that you aren't actually just staring at each other. Zoo? Play? medieval times? I dunno.


@Jade I like option "A" better.


@The Kendragon Any point is a good time to meet the parents as long as you yourself actually want to meet them. People tend to be able to feel when you don't want to meet them (for understandable reasons!). So waiting until you feel ready makes sense.

I've had a lot of good luck with meeting moms in the past. Mostly it helps to think of them as a potential fellow adult friend, and to remember that while you may or may not have other things in common, the big thing you do have in common is that you both love [the boy]. The fact that you both love him means you have something to relate to one another about -- to share. (not compete!). Framing it that way in my mind usually brings out a similar response in the mom.

Maybe the reason his mom didn't like the other girlfriends was just they were very young, immature/he was rebelling/it was a stage of life. It could be different this time.

I like moms! They tell you all kinds of things. Sometimes they even look out for you!


@harebell Thank you. This was good to read, and has me feeling a bit better. Moms have usually liked me in the past.

The young thing might also play a part. He hasn't had a girlfriend in four years, and it sounds like he was very different back then.


One boy! When he told his mom? She tracked me down at school (was still high school) and told me I was a filthy slut.

Another mom! She was really nice. But an alcoholic! And at dinner got really sloshed and started berating the other brother's girlfriend.

HOWEVER. My current bf's mom is super sweet and nice and lives 7 hours away. (This last bit, I think, is key) She is a lovely person.

And really, maybe terrible mom's are a huge red flag? So meet them because it can be a deal breaker.

You don't want to be like that chick in Dear Prudence whose MIL was trying to poison her.


@The Kendragon oh, good! Fingers crossed. It does sound like this might be a totally different situation from the past.


@Jade People are terrible sometimes! Those moms sound awful. I think my worst story is the time my then-boyfriend's mom came to town, and he lived in my apartment building on the floor above me, but he wouldn't introduce me to her. It turned out that it was because I'm not Indian and therefore not acceptable. Fun times! I had no idea until she came that it was like that.

We ended things soon after, so I didn't have to find out if this was actually his mother's sentiment alone, or if it was his too, ha ha ha. Some things I don't want to know.

I think you're right, terrible moms are probably a huge red flag, and meeting moms is probably a good test-case scenario (though to be taken with a grain of salt, of course).

baked bean

@harebell I had to start biting my tongue because I complained about my parents all the time to my bf and he became really scared of them. I was not painting them in a good light.
I imagine you do not has as much to fear as you think you do.


Why can't I fly from Philly to Ohio without stopping in Atlanta? Why?

Yankee Peach

@travelmugs There's a famous quote that says something like, "even if you are going to hell, you'll have to change planes in Atlanta."


@Yankee Peach At least the Atlanta airport has good pralines.




My boyfriend's sister just moved to Australia for a year, and has promised us free food and lodging if we can dig up the money to afford the plane tickets to Sydney. The problem is that they are all at least $2000 during the holiday season, which is the only time my boyfriend can go because he's in grad school and that's his winter break. So half of me is like take advantage of an all-expenses-paid-except-plane trip to Australia when it's summer there in January, and half of me is like we're broke and in our twenties and about to spend $4000 on a vacation NOPE. What do I do??


@xylophone If you can scrape together the money, I think you'll find it will be worth it. Spending your money on experiences tends to be more fulfilling than stuff.


ALSO: Leaving or coming back either on Wednesday or Thursday is way cheaper than any other day of the week.

Snood Mood

"Go away, often" Wasn't that in Harvard Square, or am I misremembering? (Right across from the Garage Mall, I think? )


I am desperate to find that super cheap plane ticket to ANYWHERE. I have intense wanderlust.

Miss Dashwood

Any thoughts on whether the late August/early September guideline remains true if you want to travel in, say, mid-September? Should I wait 10 days in the hopes that fares go down, or buy now in case it gets more expensive the closer I get to the day I need to travel? Help meeee.

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