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Book Now? Airlines Expand Travel Into 2012

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Airlines can sell tickets no more than 330 days in advance. Most legacy lines do, in fact, sell tickets this far out, meaning customers can currently book through the holiday season and into 2012.

Low-cost carriers, however, tend to offer shorter booking windows, usually between six and eight months in advance. Southwest made news last year when it opened a 270-day booking window, by far its longest to date.

Low-cost favorites Southwest, JetBlue, and AirTran are showing prices into late October and early November. Here are the current availability windows from all of the major low-cost carriers:

  • Virgin America: October 27
  • JetBlue: October 29
  • AirTran: November 4
  • Southwest: November 4
  • Frontier: November 13
  • Spirit: February 2012

Is it time to start shopping? Sometimes the early bird really does get the worm—not to mention the cheapest flight.

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Readers, how far in advance do you usually book? A few weeks? Two or three months? Any tips for saving money by booking early, or at the last minute?

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