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So I'm booking flights to go to Europe in September n October.

And it's a long way off, but I've already noticed in the space of a week or so, that the prices have started creeping up. Not by much, but I've just realized that generally, the prices I was quoted a week ago is now a little bit more expensive.

Then again, out of interest, I've looked for earlier flights in like August or July, and some are even cheaper, so I don't know if it's just the general fluctuation of prices or if the flights on the dates I've set are really getting more expensive.

I kind of presumed that airlines have a kind of first in, best dressed type policy where the first couple of seats they sell on a flight is cheap then progressively more expensive?

But is that how it works? If so, on any given flight, a seat is not going to be any cheaper than it is now and therefore I should just book as soon as I can. Or should I be holding out for a while and monitoring prices until I get the price that I want and buying then?

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3 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

A similar question has been asked some time ago, and an excellent answer has been given. All this can be summarized as follows:

  1. Airfares are very difficult to predict
  2. "If you know you're going, and there's a fare you can afford, book it. Waiting will almost never save you money, and never enough to offset paying double or triple the cheapo fare because you waited too long." (Kate Gregory)
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Was just about to post this related question. –  John Doe May 27 '12 at 14:36
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While Kate's answer is certainly correct in context, its context is that of the holiday season. Are you certain her results would apply equally well in October? –  kojiro May 27 '12 at 18:12
    
The holiday season makes the final price probably the highest it will be (though trying to get to the Olympics might have a similar pattern) but the basic concept and observations apply year round. –  Kate Gregory Jun 22 '12 at 20:34
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It is not directly directed to your question but low-cost carrier prices can fluctuate on the weekly basis with the lowest price appearing usually on Tuesday or Wednesday. Prices around Holidays can get a high starting prices and get lower later. However predicting it is always a matter of experience.

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I recently discovered a service called TripIt Pro, which among other things offers a fare watcher service. Once you upload your itinerary (including flight numbers), TripIt Pro will watch for lower fares and alert you if a newer fare is low enough that even with the penalty for changing your ticket, you still save money.

FD: I haven't signed up with TripIt Pro yet, although I do have a free account (the pro account has a 30-day free trial, so I'm waiting until I can get the most value from it).

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Only works for changeable/flexible/refundable tickets though, which the very cheapest tickets generally aren't –  Gagravarr May 27 '12 at 18:00
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