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  1. #1

    Default Early Couples booking & when to book flight

    Hi All! I have been lurking on this board since early 2010 when my husband & I first found out about Couples Resorts. CTI totally spoke to us, but it never worked out for us to make a reservation until now...the early booking rates & $300 resort credit was too good to pass up, so last week we booked for September 2012 to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary! To say we are excited is an understatement--even if it is 446 days away (yes, I've started a countdown!)

    Anyway...my question is to those of you who, in the past, have also booked vacation accommodations more than a year in advance and flight schedules are not yet available. From what I understand, most airlines set schedules 9-12 months out. What has been your experience as far as when to book flights & get the best pricing? Do airlines tend to set lower prices for early bookings as soon as the schedules come out?

    Thanks so much to all who participate on this message board--I have learned so much already about Couples & why everyone seems to love their resorts so much

    Laura

  2. #2

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    We almost always book before flights are available. Our current countdown (160 days now) started at 609. We couldn't pass up a deal offered by Couples either.

    Flights typically are not available more that 331 days out. So when my countdown reaches that point, I begin watching the prices. I use this site to do this. [ http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ ] I like the sortable, graphic that it has to see our options. It searches all major airlines and can search multiple airports at once. The prices it displays include all fees and taxes (except checked bag fees).

    In my experience, initially posted prices typically are not as low as they will be. I just keep an eye on them and book flights through the airline's website when they drop to a level I am comfortable with. It's a guessing game, but prices fluctuate and they really can't be predicted.

    After I book, I try not to look again. I don't want to know that I could have received a better deal if I had just waited one more week to book...lol
    Happy & Safe Travels!

    =

  3. #3

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    317 days until I'm at CSA. ;-)

    It's been my experience (in recent years) that it's best to book flights as soon as they are announced. With the economy and gas prices, airlines have drastically reduced their number of flights, so that they won't be flying half empty planes. 10 years ago, you could wait until the month before, when they were trying to fill up the planes, and get a great deal, but that really isn't the case today.

    Now, if you're concerned about having the money to book the flights, and wanting more time to save, PriceLine's name your own price bidding actually does work. My fiance has used it (before he began working for an airline) to get a good deal on a flight with short notice; however, you tell them the day you want to travel and they pick the flight/times. You will never get a direct flight and you tend to get longer layovers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    2,310

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    The best thing to do is start looking at current rates right now. Then when the rates become available for your time (300 days in advance), you then have an idea of what the rates run. Watch the prices and when you find the one you want book it!

    We book ours fairly far out as the good flight times seem to book up quickly. We don't like waiting until the last minutes (or last few months) to book as we will end up with flights with very long layovers and horrible flight times either getting into MBJ late or night and/or leaving Jamaica at the crack of dawn.

    It is kinda a guessing game, but start your research now and you will have a better idea of what to expect when it comes time to book your flight.
    Juliann & Jeff
    Jamaica Soon Come

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    987

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    I don't have a great deal of experience with doing this, just from the last couple of years. But from what I have learned when the flights first become available the prices are quite high. Both years we have done this we booked a June trip in June of the prior year, like this year. Flight schedules will be available in about a month for us to start shopping. Prices for the last couple of years were high at first, but came down quite a bit in late September and varied only slightly till November. We booked our flight in October for both or our trips and got very close the best price that come up for that year. By December the prices went up above what we paid and never came down lower again. They did vary a bit all the way up till June and finally topped out at just above what the prices were in the previous summer when we started the process.

    My advice is to watch the prices closely, especially when you get to about 8 or 9 months out. When you think they look fair, jump on it. If they drop lower just chalk it up to experience and forget about it. It really is a game that we all have to play with the airlines. It is not a fun game, but we are stuck with it.

    Have a great trip, hope you get a great price on your flights.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    130

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    thanks for the site...we leave in 22 days and have that one covered but we return July of 2012 and want to keep an eye on our options :-)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    458

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    You need to start looking now to get an idea of what the prices are. I use www.Kayak.com to compare a lot of the available pricing. You can also set up price alerts with them. If the fare reaches a certain price they will notify you. When you see a good price JUMP! It may disappear within minutes!

    If you tell us where you are from the regulars on here may be able to tell you what the "average" to look for is.

  8. #8

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    The wife and I have only flown twice before on vacations we had to arrange the flights. This time, we booked back in November for Couples, and I started watching airline prices. I opted to go through Orbitz, and booked back around February when gas prices started going up. I chose Orbitz because of the low price promise, so if (unlikely) prices dropped, I could get some money back. Well, we paid $700 total for both of us for round-trip from Detroit, MI->Charlotte, NC->Montego Bay. Currently the same flight route on Orbitz on the same airline is running about $1100 for two.

    As has been said, start watching prices, and when you feel comfortable with the price shown, buy with no regrets. It's a guessing game, sort of like playing the stock market. Is gas going to go up and raise airline prices over the summer, or stay level, or drop? I'd say, go with your gut, if it says "these prices are going to go up," then buy.

    Jason A
    CTI in:
    118 days
    3 hours
    47 minutes
    58 seconds

  9. #9

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    I wait to the last minute. That is when I get the best deals. I start watching on Kayak when prices are released. I can't fly direct so, I have to connect through, Dallas, Atanta, or Charlotte. So I have more options. I also fly on Tuesdays and Wednesday. $500 is my price point. Right now tickets are $800 which is about what they started out at a year ago. We leave in 56 days and my tickets still aren't booked. I will wait till has late at 14 days out. Last year I paid $400 for first class round trip. I am willing to take a gamble.

  10. #10

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    Thanks, everyone! This is exactly the type of info I was hoping for; and, Fluffin, you read my mind as my next questions was going to be: If there are any regulars out there from the upper midwest, what have you considered to be a good fare over the recent months? (We are from Madison, WI and although we don't fly that often, our more recent trips have been mostly out of Milwaukee.)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    241

    Default

    Hi Laura-

    We are also from the Madison area (Oregon). Nice to see a fellow Badger on the boards! We are planning our 5th trip to Couples (a split between CTI and CSS) in December 2012...yes, couldn't pass up the $300 resort credit either.

    For three of our four trips to Couples we traveled from O'Hare because of the cost of the flights and availability of direct flights, the other we flew out of Milwaukee on US Air. American has a lot of options out of ORD to Montego Bay, including a direct flight on Saturdays. We have booked flights separately and usually found prices cheapest 6 or so months before the trip. I just noticed that flights dropped from ~$575 to ~$425 recently for a December 2011 trip, which is just about 5 months from now. I have been using Kayak to watch prices and they have a nice weekly price alert email too.

    Because the flights are usually early, we book a room around the airport that includes a week or so of parking (parksleepfly.com is one decent site) -- the cost of the room is just a bit more than parking for the week at the airport, and we get to start vacation one day earlier!

    Enjoy your trip!

    Greg

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