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My boyfriend and I are looking to visit Shanghai and Hong Kong in December, and we were wondering when the best (the cheapest price) time to buy tickets would be. Should we go ahead and purchase now, or is it possible that better deals could come up in another month?

We are leaving from DFW to Shanghai to Hong Kong.

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2  
You should post where you are flying from. –  victoriah Jun 21 '11 at 22:11
    
Seasonal ticket prices are highly dependent on both where you depart from and where you land. By the way what is "DFW"? –  hippietrail Jun 25 '11 at 5:11
2  
@hippietrail DFW = Dallas/Fort Worth –  todofixthis Jun 25 '11 at 6:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Many airlines will send out periodic mailings detailing points promotions and/or discounted/special fares.

There is - of course - no guarantee that the flight you want will come up on sale, but every now and then you'll also get coupon codes for double miles, 10% off, etc., which can also be very helpful.

To opt into these mailings, check your online profile settings for your miles program(s).

(for example, to opt into American Airlines mailings, log into your account at http://www.aa.com, click on "My Account" at the top, and then click on the "Email and Fare Alerts" tab on the following page)

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There is no way for anyone to know in advance if prices will go up or down in the coming month.

In general prices go up as you get closer to the departure date, as the lower fare buckets sell out.

Airlines of course have sales and promotions, but it is not in their best interest to promote the upcoming sale before it begins. Consider - if they did that, customers who might otherwise have been willing to pay the current, higher price, will wait and pay less instead.

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As #naeblis posted, there is no generic answer to this question. My answer would be that it depends on the type of trip you are planning. If you have inflexible dates or a set itinerary I'd recommend getting the tickets as soon as you know these details. Also, if your itinerary involves low-traffic routes or minor destinations with infrequent flights I'd tend to buy early rather than waiting. While you can sometimes get better prices by waiting (even to the last minute) the number of itineraries at sale prices is usually limited and may not be exactly what you wanted.

If you have flexible dates, the trip is "optional", or you are flying a popular route you could try waiting on the chance to catch a sale. Keep in mind that the later you buy your ticket the later you are making other reservations such as for hotels or rental cars which could have gone up in price. Finally, bing Travel has a feature that analyzes airfare trends and predicts whether you should buy now or wait for a better price, but it only works on high-traffic USA domestic route.

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Thanks! I will check out bing travel. I have been searching around different travel booking sites, and each one is quoting me different prices. –  AtlasRN Jun 21 '11 at 23:32
    
Bing is the only site I know of with the airfare prediction feature. Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to work on your flight to China.... –  user27478 Jun 22 '11 at 0:46
    
I just checked Bing, and they are giving me prices that are way more than CheapOAir (over $1000 more). I have been giving my boyfriend all the updates, and I think we are going to but tickets soon before the prices go up. –  AtlasRN Jun 22 '11 at 0:47

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