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It seems like there is a limit to how far ahead flights can be booked. Is there an official limit? Is there a difference between when flights can be booked versus searched for? There is a related question that asks when routes are published, so do they become available for booking on the same day?

On Expedia for example, the calendar to search for flights stops on July 5th as of today August 9 but on American Airline's website, one can search until July 7th. Note that no Airline is selected before a search on Expedia but on AA.com, obviously it only searches American Airlines. On Delta.com, there is also a July 7 limit.

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    OK, edited to remove that aspect, although other question sadly has no accepted answer. Only one actually and without sources. – Itai Aug 9 '16 at 4:43
  • I seem to recall it being 330 days, though I don't have the reference to hand. – Michael Hampton Aug 9 '16 at 4:47
  • Yes, there is a difference between when flights can be booked versus searched for on at least some sites. I don't remember exactly how far in advance I tried to book and couldn't, but it was months less than 330 days. – WGroleau Aug 9 '16 at 5:11
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There are no official limits; that is the GDS systems do not impose a limit. Each airline is free to release their fares and control booking based on their individual requirements.

You can usually find this information in the agent reference/manual/guidelines published by airlines. These also include the fare rules, restrictions, refund policies, penalties and a lot of TLA (three-letter acronyms) that are only relevant to those in the industry.

You simply have to search for the airline you are interested in, here are some examples that I found:

Frontier has it available on their page for travel agents, written in plain English (my emphasis):

Frontier participates in the following Global Distribution Systems: Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport (including Apollo, Galileo and Worldspan). Please be familiar with the specific formats and requirements of each system for booking and ticketless/Guaranteed Ticketing travel.

Frontier utilizes teletype (TTY) connectivity for availability and will open and close inventory with AVS messaging. F9 flight schedules will be available for booking up to 180 days in advance of departure date in the GDS systems.

American Airlines, states on their website:

You can book a flight on aa.com up to 331 days in advance.

British Airways publishes fares one year in advance:

You can access information up to one year in advance.

Finally, a route is different than a flight. A route is a combination of arrival and destination (with optional stops), but a flight is a timed departure for that destination. There are some routes that are seasonal, some routes that are permanent - and the availability of flights also fluctuates.

There are usually multiple flights on a route. An airline may have multiple flights on the same route; and multiple airlines may offer different flights, or even flights departing at the same time (often within 30 minute gaps). This is often the case on popular/busy city combinations.

  • Also very important, even though an airline publishes the schedule months in advance, they are not obligated to keep it. Flight timings and availability can and do change. – Johns-305 Aug 9 '16 at 13:59
  • It's too bad one has to search so exhaustively. I'm usually more interested in flights than airlines. Although starting with the route, this narrows down which airlines to look at. – Itai Aug 9 '16 at 14:23
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There are different limits that affect this. Some GDS systems limit flights to 365 days out, while others are shorter (Sabre used to be 331 days but now supports further out). Some airlines are further limited to a shorter period. Last I checked, American and Delta were 331 days, Lufthansa was 360, Swiss was 340, and both British Airways and Qantas were 355 days.

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