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Booking flights for later next year - sense check

Booking flights for later next year - sense check

Old Sep 13, 20, 3:25 am
  #1  
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Booking flights for later next year - sense check

Hi - I'm hoping I can either verify my understanding or get told I'm an idiot and replan a little around new knowledge

I've rarely booked flights more than say 3 months in advance before so for a leisure trip next August am stepping on to unfamiliar terrain. Sadly I'm not really in control of timings as meeting others out there, and am trying to help them a little too. We're planning on Cape Town, I have a plan A and plan B in terms of routes/carriers for myself and intend to take a scenic route. But others will want to optimise for cost/time and fly direct Y if possible (connecting in Y long haul with no status doesn't sound much fun to me)

But when I look on BA website/app for Y, I see competitively priced fares up to June 2021, a rise in July and a big spike in August. so from tomorrow to about 9 months time it's pretty consistently under £600 return, but fast forward 11 months and it's £2k. Which for the back of the bus and booked in advance sounds steep to me.

Now my thinking is that maybe there's some seasonal price variation built in, but probably the biggest factor is all the fare buckets are available up until June at the moment for the route, and probably they only load the non-fully flex availability as we get to say 9 months until flight- so it might be reasonable for me to expect a price drop and especially to advise anyone wanting to fly Y that they should hold fire until Jan to book rather than pay ?

Some are getting itchy fingers and talking about flying indirect on Ethiopian Y or whatever Skyscanner tells them is the cheapest route, their call of course but really I wanted to check with the wisdom of the group whether I'm right in advising they just relax and wait a couple of months to see if lower buckets open for the BA direct flight, or if I'm wrong and this is some meteoric incoming price shift/genuine annual price cycle wave movement that won't likely come down.
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Old Sep 13, 20, 4:14 am
  #2  
 
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I’m not sure about your fare bucket speculation but I’m am sure someone else on here will be along shortly to give you some more informed advice on that.

Speaking personally it is hard to believe that £2k in Y for the RSA winter in CPT is a good deal. I’d be waiting things out or looking for an ex-EU deal in CW myself. But there is the rugby going on then so maybe that’s what’s pushing up the pricing?
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Old Sep 13, 20, 4:28 am
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Iím not an expert on revenue management and fare buckets at all, but one consideration is the Lions tour, which is happening in July and August in South Africa next year, currently its still on and Iím sure BA will have this in their diary.

My brother has just secured tickets to the games, so there may be a lot of others now booking flights, Iíve told him to hold off for a while.
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Old Sep 13, 20, 4:37 am
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Hmm ok; I hadn't thought of sporting events. as far as I can see, there's only Y and B on offer which seems unusual to me but I'm far from an expert hence the question

And yes, I'm planning either AMS or OSL start point for myself, flying either BA or QR, but I don't think the others will be up for that (and I don't think they'd want to pay for J).
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Old Sep 13, 20, 11:00 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by drwook View Post
Hmm ok; I hadn't thought of sporting events. as far as I can see, there's only Y and B on offer which seems unusual to me but I'm far from an expert hence the question

And yes, I'm planning either AMS or OSL start point for myself, flying either BA or QR, but I don't think the others will be up for that (and I don't think they'd want to pay for J).
I quite understand that not everyone wants to jump thru the ex-eu hoops.

But costs wise it would be unusual not to find ex-Amsterdam in J at rather less than £2k your friends are considering paying for Y.

Iím lucky enough to be predominantly based in Amsterdam and itís an excellent source of value business class flights to RSA. In normal circumstances Iím a frequent traveler on that route although obviously not so much since March.

enjoy your trip anyway! Cheers. Fritz
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Old Sep 13, 20, 11:10 am
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OP - for your friends - avoid £2k, book a flight for October 2020, £500ish in Y.

When the flight gets cancelled, call up and move to your preferred dates in Aug 2021. No additional fee to pay. In the very unlikely event the flight operates, take a voucher and use to book later.
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Old Sep 13, 20, 12:00 pm
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From good advice on here, I have found that during major sporting events, the best route is to approach from somewhere else. Direct flights during rugby and cricket competitions are a way for airlines to maximise revenue.
For instance, if you want to go to a country, aim to get there via another country with no interest in the competition.
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Old Sep 13, 20, 2:53 pm
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Do you really want to go in August. Itís chilly !
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Old Sep 13, 20, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by jeremyBA View Post
Do you really want to go in August. Itís chilly !
This phrase at the start of the OP's post is pertinent here:-

Sadly I'm not really in control of timings as meeting others out there
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Old Sep 13, 20, 5:31 pm
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To an airline, the only people who book cash fares 10-12 months out are those who Ďneedí to go and who tend to be fairly inflexible over dates. Often a wedding is a good example, particularly if quite a few people will be travelling. If you open low buckets straight away, you risk accepting bookings from people who would have been willing to pay more (case in point: the OPís friends are thinking about it...) Thereís also the matter of competition - BA opens 355 days, but many airlines are later, so thereís a short period (or quite a long one in Europe, when comparing with LCCs) where you have the run of the field.

Once youíve established a booking curve to compare with those of previous years, you can then see whether a particular flight is selling more or less than expected, perhaps assess whether there might be an event you werenít aware of, and adjust as required. This is when youíd see lower buckets start to open. If you open low buckets and would always have had to do so, you havenít lost anything. But if you opened them too early, you might have kept too few seats back to sell as they start to close again.

Hopefully for the OP that explains what heís seeing. Obviously thatís for a standard flight, but if it overlays with a major sporting event, then special Ďrulesí will always apply. Iíd still expect them to fall from £2k though.

As an aside, I once heard a story from someone at BA about a Ďsociety weddingí at one of the big Scottish castles. No idea if itís true but seems so funny (in a niche way) that it must be. The invitations asked everyone to book a specific flight up from London... and the inventory exec got word of it. They overrode the system to prevent any of the low classes opening, held their nerve, and ended up with a £350 premium over the flight immediately before or after it. Personally Iíd have gone early and hung around in arrivals for a few hours... but thatís probably why Iíd never have been invited in the first place...
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Old Sep 13, 20, 5:50 pm
  #11  
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Exactly. OP says that he is not in control of timing. Presumably if he were, would not be booking anywhere close to this far out. Expect to pay top prices now because one is inflexible and thus necessarily price insensitive.
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Old Sep 13, 20, 7:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Exactly. OP says that he is not in control of timing. Presumably if he were, would not be booking anywhere close to this far out. Expect to pay top prices now because one is inflexible and thus necessarily price insensitive.
As so often happens, this is dependent on the starting point and the route. I'm seriously looking at JFK-LHR-INV for next August, bucking up against the end of schedule for us in the USA. Club over on the overnight flight, WT+ for the day flight back--my ideal combination. $1760 right now. I know that fares can get lower if starting ex-EU, but for the last several years, that's about as low a price as I might expect, especially for a route during the tourist season, although at the very end.

The problem is, of course, since I'm not a UK citizen, is it worth booking a trip that far out when we might still be required to do some sort of quarantine on arrival? Combined with a domestic AA trip in January, I'd get the tier points to renew Silver, but this is a true trip, not a tier point run. Am I willing to take the chance that although the booking is almost a year away, I might be stuck with a voucher that is not guaranteed to buy the same level of flights that I have in mind now?
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Old Sep 14, 20, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by lwildernorva View Post
As so often happens, this is dependent on the starting point and the route...
Absolutely... my common West Coast - Blighty flight prices get set about 12 months out, and unless a sale appears (which happens almost never!) stays pretty constant until two months out then the price only rises! Award availability is a different issue (in pre-Covid times, that is!)

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Old Sep 14, 20, 11:43 am
  #14  
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There is no way I’d be handing an airline money for a trip in 11 months from now. I would not have done that pre-corona, and certainly not now, when admissibility is still a question. Certainty can only increase, and pricing can only come down.
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Old Sep 14, 20, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
There is no way Iíd be handing an airline money for a trip in 11 months from now. I would not have done that pre-corona, and certainly not now, when admissibility is still a question. Certainty can only increase, and pricing can only come down.
I agree with the first part of your last sentence (although only the events that will increase certainty and not the timetable for those events can be guessed at now), but there's room for doubt on the second part. I think prices will come down before they go back up, but once certainty increases, the chances are so will prices. More people wanting to travel, a by-product of increased certainty, with capacity not yet returned to pre-corona levels--keeping in mind that the entire airline industry has severely decreased capacity right now with some airlines likely unable to ramp up quickly when things ease--is a recipe for a spike in prices. The price I quoted above is within 5% of the lowest I've ever seen it for that route, and in normal times for a leisure trip, I'd book that trip now at that price.

But these, as we're continually reminded, are not normal times.
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