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Timing the market for airline tickets

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NEW YORK (4/6/11)--The question of when to buy an airline ticket for the best price, always a crap shoot, is being complicated by the recent acute rise in fuel costs, which drives air fares higher (The New York Times March 23). Travel pros have this advice for booking your tickets:
* Buy now for imminent travel. Book now for a trip in the next month or two. For summer travel, it might pay to wait, as some cheap seats have not yet been released. And it’s likely that, if prices rise a lot, travelers will spurn the air--causing a drop in ticket prices you can exploit. * Use social networking tools. The March issue of MoneyMix, from the Credit Union National Association, recommends signing up for airline social networking feeds to pull all the information into one place so you can browse and compare deals quickly. * Go old school. While online resources are usually the way to fly, MoneyMix recommends sticking with travel agents for best buys on overseas flights. “International airlines often aren't included on travel websites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia, which could mean you're missing out,” said Erienne Andvik, author of the MoneyMix article, "Find a Deal on Airplane Tickets." But travel agents have superior access and can research finding an international flight at no additional cost to you. * Stay flexible to grab last-minute deals. Airlines sometimes cut fares within days of departure, so keep checking. Look for sales at sites like and * Get help monitoring price trends. Air fares can fluctuate dramatically in a short time. Bing Travel tracks trends between destinations and shows whether fares are dropping, holding steady, or rising. That information can give you the confidence to buy now if fares are on the rise, or hold out if fares are dropping.
For more information, view the “Money and Travel” video in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.