View Full Version : Purchasing airline tickets...how to get the best price?

Chuck Wintle
05-17-2017, 4:18 PM
Hoping to go to europe this summer....who knows where to purchase tickets to get the best price for the flight over? thax.

Mike Henderson
05-17-2017, 8:09 PM
There's sometimes a tradeoff for lowest price - the route may have multiple stops or you may not depart from the airport closest to you, or you may leave or arrive in the middle of the night. Some options may have a long layover in an intermediate airport. I use Matrix search and keep checking different options. One problem is that any search tool will only give you the best prices for the route and dates/times that you specify. So you have to keep modifying things. For example, some routes are much more expensive if you leave on Sunday or Monday because business travelers usually travel those days. Return on Friday is often more expensive.

You just have to keep working it over and over, changing different things to see what gives you the best price. Even if you're going for a cruise, you can try to see if arriving one day early saves you enough to pay for a hotel. And you get an extra day in the departure city to see it yourself.

No easy answer - just try lots of options.


[I think I heard of some service that will do a lot of that searching for you for a fee. You might try a Google search.]

[Usually the best prices are between major cities in North America and Europe - such as LA, NYC, Chicago and then London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt.]

Jim Becker
05-17-2017, 8:49 PM
Best price is typically directly with the airline on their web site. But be careful that you understand the class of the ticket you are considering and what its restrictions might be. The "cheapest" ticket isn't always the least expensive... ;)

John K Jordan
05-17-2017, 10:29 PM
Hoping to go to europe this summer....who knows where to purchase tickets to get the best price for the flight over? thax.

Ha! I asked my wife about this and she just laughed - probably because she knows how much work it is! She is an expert at this, better than any travel agent. She said basically she does a lot of research. :-) We usually go to Europe every year and I've seen her working months ahead of time finding the best flights, booking rooms, etc. A few times we flew into and out of England and took shorter flights or the train to/from other countries. (We like Italy the best, but have traveled to and through Greece, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and one stopover in the Netherlands (I'd like to stay in Amsterdam sometime.)

She assumes you don't have frequent flyer miles for the tickets (our last trip was covered by those, courtesy of AmEx). She usually finds the best prices on one of the travel sites - she said she uses Expedia, Travelocity, and some others. She does a lot of comparison and hunting for deals. When she is in her research mode I see her nested with a stack of books and printouts and pages of notes.

She said booking directly with the airline usually costs more but not always - she always finds the best price elsewhere then spot checks with the airlines to make sure. She said you have to be careful with the airlines and know exactly what you want and understand how they do things, especially concerning the restrictions and how to find them - I don't know enough about this to even understand what she is talking about!

It helps to be flexible about your travel dates and length of stay. Prices can be higher on certain dates, days of the week, and even different times of day.

She said to tell you once you get to Europe and want to fly to various places, Easy Jet was a good option for us a few times for long distances (be careful of baggage weight restrictions), otherwise the trains are very good. We almost always rent a car (except in Venice!) which is another entire research topic - insurance issues, international drivers license, specific traffic regulations, what kind of car not to rent, best rates... I've got some good stories! BTW, we use a prepaid international VISA card for almost everything in Europe - rooms, cars, purchases.

An important thing we've learned about travel in Europe was how to protect yourself the pick pockets in crowds. Paris was the worst.

If you have specific questions send a message and I'll connect you with email. Note that we don't know how departing from Canada might differ from the US.


Eduard Nemirovsky
05-18-2017, 1:34 PM
Chuck, another option to check prices will be google flight search. It give you map with multiple options from to where to flight, prices, history of price depending on day of the week.


roger wiegand
05-19-2017, 8:58 AM
Kayak has pretty good tools for looking at fares near to your travel dates and to alternate airports near your destination. They also incorporate a fare prediction tool, which is probably as good as the 30 day weather prediction. Most fares hit their lowest point about 15-30 days prior to departure, but that will vary with how close to sold out the route is.

If you travel with baggage that cost needs to be factored in. Something like Southwest often ends up cheaper, even though the published fare is higher, because of the "free" baggage allowance. It can be worthwhile to pay for an airline credit card if the card benefits include a "free" checked bag.

Stan Calow
05-19-2017, 10:23 AM
International fares go up and down unpredictably. Airlines use some sophisticated algorithms to figure out what will work for them. You can't assume the fares will go up or down, or that there's one day of the week thats better than the other. We were tracking fares to London last fall. They were bouncing around $1200-1500 for a couple of months, then dropped to $600 for 10 days in November, then shot back to $1300. Then dropped to $800 in January, and back up a week later. Totally unpredictable. If your airport has international flights, that makes it easier, but with connections its tough to find a good fare on any of the new discount airlines like Norwegian or Wow.

Jim Becker
05-19-2017, 10:26 AM
An interesting option for flying to Europe right now is Iclandic...you get to enjoy a stopover in a really kewel place and their rates seem to be attractive. I'm guessing they fly into/out of one or more of the larger eastern Canadian airports. Check it out as you do your research.

Scott Brandstetter
05-19-2017, 3:49 PM
Chuck, I am embarrassed to say that I have been on 66 airplanes this year and constantly fighting the cheap flight battle. John's wife is absolutely correct, research and more research. Say you live in Ky like me and want to go to Europe. I would use a base line of everything I could find from the 3 airports near me, SDF, CVG and IND and the ultimate place in europe i would want to fly to. I would then look at Flights from say New York, all 3 airlines to your ultimate destination. Now you probably have a much lower ticket price but have to get to NY. They you search KY to NY. Its kind of a game with a lot of options. Maybe you get close and take a train, land in Europe and use their train system which is very good. One last point I will make. Don't assume the best you can get in regards to hotels is on line. Don't be afraid to call a hotel directly, ask for the Front Desk Manager, and explain you are hoping to take your wife on a trip of a lifetime and would like to stay at their hotel. Does he/she by chance have a "special rate" they could provide. You will be surprised how often the human element shows up. Good luck and look forward to seeing pictures.

Kevin Groenke
05-19-2017, 7:20 PM
I think the KEYS to getting the best price is to start monitoring fares as far in advance as possible and being as flexible as you can.

My favorite search tools are:

Google Flights - https://www.google.com/flights/
from Montreal (https://www.google.com/flights/#search;f=YUL;t=r-Europe-0x46ed8886cfadda85%253A0x72ef99e6b3fcf079;d=2017-08;r=2W;mc=e;q=flights)
allows search by month and duration or specific dates and region or specific location with filters for trip duration, stops, and price

and Kayak Explore - https://www.kayak.com/explore
from Montreal (https://www.kayak.com/explore/YUL/20170601,20170831?tripduration=2w)
allows global, regional or specific search by month and duration with filters for trip duration, stops, and price.

For best results I check both of these tools a couple times a day (at different times) for several weeks to get a sense of pricing and patterns. When something is unusually expensive, you need to be able to pull the trigger quickly because really good deals rarely last long. When you see a deal that looks good, check other search tools to see if it might be even better. Orbitz gives 24h flight cancellation for free, so if you're impulsive, you might be able to get out of it. I missed $480rt to Paris way back in February, then watched fares at $700-$900 for months before scoring $608 to Munich and from Zurich for a 2 week jaunt through Bavaria and the Alps in June. Over spring break we paid $250 for nsrt flights to Liberia, Costa Rica using the same method.

Keep in mind there are many European bargain carriers (RyanAir, Easyjet, Vueling, Germanwings...) whose intercity flights will not show up on most search tools. If you see a really good fare to Paris for example, you might be able to get from there to Barcelona for like $39.

Of course pricing is almost always lowest if you search Tuesday through Thursday and flying mid-week is almost always less expensive if you can do it.

Good luck and safe travels!

Jesse Busenitz
05-21-2017, 12:32 PM
Timing can be very crucial. I'm in Brazil right now and I paid 1600$ to fly AA round trip. Came in Dec. and am leaving in a week. Came a year ago last January and paid 800$ with AA. Book early.