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When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

I've flown with Southwest for about 4 years now steadily and I've found pretty fluctuating ticket prices.

 

For example, I may go on randomly on a day in February or March and find ticket prices for May-September for 2,500 (ish) points. But that same flight a week later is 6,000+ points. I have noticed this a lot over the past couple years. That randomly over about a 2-3 day period certain routes will drop vastly in price, then a few days later go to double or triple the price I saw for flights 3-6 months away.

 

I've also checked and it's a completely unadvertised sale or drop in price. When I've called in to make a change or something even the reps over the phone say, "Wow, you got a REALLY good deal". As the flight will typically be selling for 3x what I paid.

 

It's not at all airports it's just certain routes severely drop in price. Any thoughts on this?

 

I know obviously with Southwest the best thing to do is book  ahead and if it drops get the difference back in points or Travel Funds. But for me mostly I only take these trips because I see such a huge price drop, and would not otherwise take the trips. I always travel with 2 more "Adults" (we pay for an adult for our child because Southwest's "child fare" is always more than Wanna Get Away) so paying 1/3 the price is a big difference for us.

7 REPLIES 7
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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Top Contributor

I don't think there is a set "best" time to buy tickets.  As you have observed, ticket prices do vary. There may be a pattern to SW's pricing methodology, but I haven't determined what it is.

 

I do think there is a set time to NOT buy tickets. My observation has been that ticket prices are high - right after a schedule drop to high demand locations on high demand dates.

Example: trips to Florida for spring break. (frequently no wanna get away for sale) The airline prices tickets high because it thinks it can sell them for that price. If, over time, tickets don't sell as fast as it expects, the airline will drop prices.

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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Top Contributor
Solution

@dfwskier wrote:

I don't think there is a set "best" time to buy tickets.  As you have observed, ticket prices do vary. There may be a pattern to SW's pricing methodology, but I haven't determined what it is.

 

I do think there is a set time to NOT buy tickets. My observation has been that ticket prices are high - right after a schedule drop to high demand locations on high demand dates.

Example: trips to Florida for spring break. (frequently no wanna get away for sale) The airline prices tickets high because it thinks it can sell them for that price. If, over time, tickets don't sell as fast as it expects, the airline will drop prices.


Concur with @dfwskier - you may find some pattern looking at a specific city pair, but overall I think your observations are the same as mine @Matt4202 that there isn't a pattern, instead there is a constant re-assessment of supply and demand. 

 

Even in the case of @dfwskier 's advice that the pricing is probably not the best it will be when the schedule is just released, you can still buy tickets then and re-price them if the cost does come down although you'll have the shortest amount of time to re-use travel funds this way if you are six months out. 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

I feel like that is counter intuitive though. Typically airlines sell the cheapest seats first and as those sell out the price increases as inventory decreases. At least that’s how it works with most airlines.

 

It works that way with SW somewhat like I’ve seen it say only 1 seat available at this price. So if you try to purchase 2 it’ll increase the price to the next tier.

 

Was hoping someone had more insight like during the 2nd week of this month based on past years it typically drops.

 

@ipsedixit - 

 

As stated in my post our travel plans are mostly dependent upon cheap ticket prices. So we typically do not book unless the price is well below average for our route.

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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

The best time to buy is when your travel plans are confirmed. 

With SWA flexible cancellation and change policy, you can always switch to a lower fare after the fact. 

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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

I agree once you think you might travel, book the flight.  I've gone in a week later and seen a price drop, and rebooked and got the difference refunded.  It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.  

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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

The best time to buy is right now, as tickets are the cheapest they have ever been (but are slowly increasing back to normal-ish levels as demand increases). Aside from that, whenever Southwest has a sale is always a good time to buy 😉 

 

--Jessica

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Re: When is the best time to buy tickets overall?

Active Member

Right now ticket prices for the most part are on the higher end. They were much lower in March.

 

In March we were booking trips for August for 6,000 points Round Trip, those same flights are now 9,000+ points each, so roughly a 50% increase. 

 

For the most part our departure city, Minneapolis, has no good sales when sales are announced. To go to LA, NYC, Miami, or Dallas the cheapest shown right now is $160 Roundtrip. Which is okay if we absolutely needed to get somewhere. But we do more sporadic trips based on low fares.

 

We've gotten Roundtrip flights to LA or Dallas and back for 6,000 points. So paying $160 vs 6k points is a pretty big difference when you're buying 3 tickets.