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Holiday Airfare: Buy Now or Later?

In Today in the Sky, Ben Mutzabaugh asks a question that I’ve been pondering myself: “With the high demand winter-holiday travel season approaching, should fliers find the best fares they can find now? Or, should they wait for fare sales that the airlines typically roll out in early fall?”

I’m not much of a gambler, so I decided to cut my potential losses and buy now. Last year, my roundtrip holiday ticket from SFO to DFW hovered right around $300. This year, it’s nearing $500, and I don’t want to risk it going any higher or not getting a seat at all.

Considering capacity cuts, the high cost of fuel and a potential drop in consumer demand, Ben’s blog also notes that “most industry observers say it’s still unclear just how much the capacity cutting will allow airlines to raise fares.”

Jennifer

My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

Comments

Nothing But Bonfires
Reply

I’ve been wondering exactly the same thing. And I too have been coming down on the side of “buy now, no regrets.” But then I think “well, what if I wait JUST a little longer?” Next thing you know I’ll be promising my firstborn in exchange for a December ticket to Singapore.

If you’re saying buy now, I’m buying now. Better safe than sorry. And broke.

Jowl
Reply

I bought our family of three tickets for our Christmas trip to ELP-ORD-MEM a month ago. I am happy with the price though now I’m fretting a bit over whether or not there will be a major change to the scheduled itinerary. There’s already been one though minor.

Price, regardless of the turbulence of the airline industry, will always be a factor. But I can never recall a time when we found ourselves wondering “Will I be able to even get a seat?”

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