questionswhen is the optimal time to buy an airline flight?

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This is tough and becomes tougher as fuel prices are subject to unpredictable spikes. Below is a link to a pretty good article which advises buying about four months early (but earlier for holiday flights), buying early in the week, and signing up for email alerts.

Personally, I find persistence pays, but costs in terms of time spent hunting.

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/best-time-buy-airline-tickets/story?id=4519704

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It's not as regimented as it used to be. You're better off buying some tickets far in advance and waiting until the last minute on others. Where are you departing from & going to? When are you taking your trip? Even the day of the week that you buy your ticket on can make a difference.

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I know this doesn't pertain to the question about when to buy tickets.. But also look into where. Like where I live it's cheaper to drive to little rock AK sometimes to catch a flight so long as its somewhere in the US than to fly out of Memphis. So check surrounding airports too.

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@glindagw: I'm flying from Nashville to Montreal in August. The ticket is currently $630, but if I fly to Burlington, VT (2 hours from Montreal), the flight is $315(!). Maybe they charge a 'we hate Americans' tax in Canada.

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@dangela424: I generally like to book tickets a month in advance. This way I am not paying the exorbitant prices. I am to nervous about waiting for the last minute to buy tickets.

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In the past, when booking a flight for summer, I would start looking about 3 months in advance and monitor fares, looking for cheap seats or sales and finally buying tickets about 2 to 3 months ahead. The last 3 years I have had to start even earlier because the cheaper seats go fast and the airlines seem to either cancel flights they haven't completely filled or raise prices and keep them there. Of course I'm trying to book seats on non-stop cross-country flights because I have kids I don't want to herd through multiple airports with all the ensuing delays and missed connections and I'd like to remain sane through it all.

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OH! I thought of something else that might help! With my travel agent I used when I went to Japan he quoted me a price. I went around on sites like hotels.com etc.. and found a cheaper flight and showed it to him and he not only matched the price but beat it buy alittle bit. So might want to try finding an agent and play the price match game. Just be sure to keep the page open wit what planes your using and where your connecting.

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@dravack: That's a good suggestion. I'll try that route. Thanks.