How far in advance should I book Europe flights?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Cafe in Maastricht, Netherlands (Photo: HollandInformationStore.net)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 8, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, Europe, frequent flyer, Jessica Labrencis.

Dear Jessica,

How far in advance should I book spring and/or summer flights to Europe?

J.D.

Dear Reader,

When tracking airfare prices for a particular destination, deciding when to book can be difficult. Book too soon and you risk missing out on a lower price, but book too late and fares may rise by hundreds of dollars. I posed your question to representatives from two major online travel agencies to get their advance-booking tips.

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Hotwire.com's Vice President Clem Bason offered the following guidelines: Book April and May flights at least three to eight weeks in advance, June and July flights six to eight weeks in advance, and August and September flights three to eight weeks in advance. In addition, "While airfares in August are traditionally more expensive, hotel stays are far more affordable, making August a surprisingly good option."

Jen Catto, a senior editor at Travelocity, says that this year's prices will be about the same as last year's, but 18 percent of travelers plan to book further in advance. That means even more competition earlier on for the cheapest prices—added incentive for booking early.

Last-minute deals are also a possibility. There are always deals at the last minute (two weeks to three hours before departure), but "you can't have your heart set on a particular destination or time frame," says Catto.

 
 
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