Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

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Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 16, 2013 10:05 am

I will be flying from D.C. to Vienna in late July. Last September my preferred itinerary on United Airlines was available for $1,500. I could not commit at the time and decided to wait. Once I have learned that I could make the trip, I started checking the prices. Up until a few days ago, I could have my itinerary for $1,850. As of 14 May, the same flights cost $2,050. Assuming that I don't want shopping around or getting different flights, should I lock into $2,050 or wait for the price to go down? If I wait, what should be the trigger to buy?

Students and practitioners of Behavioral Economics will recognize that I am suffering from anchoring (on schedules and prices) and prospective loss aversion. Responses to my question, however random they may be, would provide the wisdom of a crowd and help me to decide.

Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby wilpat » Thu May 16, 2013 11:10 am

No sane person will ever figure out airline fares!

About 20 years ago I was going to Cairo Egypt. The normal fare was about $3,300, but I found one for $2,200. My trip then got cancelled -- I got my money back without any problem. My trip was later reinstated with 4 days notice and I bought a ticket for $1,100!

Another time I was having a Sales meeting in Phoenix (from Chicago). Spouses were also attending and one guys wife's Mother lived in San Diego and she wanted to fly to the meeting in Phoenix and then go on to San Diego to visit her Mother and return to Chicago from there. Her husband (who worked for me) said he would pay the difference in airfare. I said "No Problem do it!" The fare turned out to be $100 less!!

I know this doesn't help you make a decision, but I have no objective answer to your question. :happy
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby ILnative » Thu May 16, 2013 11:16 am

Been there - I feel your pain. I think reality is that fares to Europe in high season are not going to go down at this point. I would buy it and forget about it and focus on what a great trip you will have!
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 16, 2013 11:17 am

wilpat wrote:I know this doesn't help you make a decision, but I have no objective answer to your question. :happy


wilpat, thank you for a great story. But can you say either "buy now" or "buy later" to start this wisdom of a crowd thing?

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 16, 2013 11:20 am

ILnative wrote:Been there - I feel your pain. I think reality is that fares to Europe in high season are not going to go down at this point. I would buy it and forget about it and focus on what a great trip you will have!


ILnative, thank you! You provided a type of a response I am looking for,

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby hicabob » Thu May 16, 2013 11:21 am

Clark Howard, whom I consider Mr Travel, has been advocating purchase 1-2 months prior to departure recently. This seems to fit quite well with my recent experience.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby snowman » Thu May 16, 2013 11:25 am

It is high season going to Europe, you will not get lower price, to Vienna in particular. The longer you wait, the more you will pay, that's just the way it is, unfortunately.

Enjoy the trip!
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby G-Money » Thu May 16, 2013 11:27 am

I'll preface this with saying I have no experience with booking (or taking) international flights. So perhaps others on the forum can contribute actual knowledge about typical pricing trends for these flights.

If you have an inflexible schedule, and you're willing to pay $2,050, then I'd just book the trip now. Knowing nothing about what a flight from DC to Vienna usually costs, I'd simply assume that the price is as likely to rise as it is to fall. No sense in running the risk that either (a) your desired flight schedule will get booked up or (b) the price increases beyond what you're willing to pay.

You could also look at alternative flights, either at different times to the same location, or different (nearby?) locations at the same time. This will at least give you a concept of whether you are paying a premium for your desired itinerary.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby ExcelJunkie » Thu May 16, 2013 11:27 am

Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years. In the meantime we have a lack of visibility and are left hoping we got the best deal at the time of purchase.

One thing that may help is to delete your browsers cookies prior to visiting the airline's site - or use a different browser entirely. According to this article in USA Today some airline sites are increasing prices for returning visitors to encourage them to pull the trigger.

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/airfare- ... 30100.html

One important consideration when it comes to shopping for airline tickets on the Internet is to clear out the cookies in your computer system. Cookies are files that are stored on your computer to help identify what you viewed on a website. A site will recognize returning customers. Sometimes a person will return to an airline website and see the same deal she saw earlier instead of a potentially lower fare that would be displayed to someone who hadn’t visited the site before. By deleting the cookies, the site has no idea whether you’ve seen the fare before or not.


I've never tried deleting cookies to get a better price, but will be curious to hear from you if this impacted the rates. Best of luck!
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby snowman » Thu May 16, 2013 11:41 am

G-Money wrote:I'll preface this with saying I have no experience with booking (or taking) international flights. So perhaps others on the forum can contribute actual knowledge about typical pricing trends for these flights.

If you have an inflexible schedule, and you're willing to pay $2,050, then I'd just book the trip now. Knowing nothing about what a flight from DC to Vienna usually costs, I'd simply assume that the price is as likely to rise as it is to fall. No sense in running the risk that either (a) your desired flight schedule will get booked up or (b) the price increases beyond what you're willing to pay.

You could also look at alternative flights, either at different times to the same location, or different (nearby?) locations at the same time. This will at least give you a concept of whether you are paying a premium for your desired itinerary.

G-Money,
International pricing model is very different from domestic one. I have flown Victoria's route (or similar) for many years now. Your assumption that prices are as likely to fall as they are to rise is incorrect. Flying from or to nearby airport does not help either. Cleaning cookies in your browser will make no difference. If you want to fly to Vienna from anywhere in the US starting mid-June through mid-September, you will pay around $2K. You could get $200-$300 discount by flying a little sooner or later, or by booking months in advance. You will pay a lot less flying in the off season.

I tried many different strategies over the years. Prior to 2008, some of them worked better than others. Since than, flying in high season to Vienna is exactly the way Victoria described - it starts high even 9 months before the flight, and prices keep creeping up until the actual departing date. There were many times when I hated to pull the trigger at $1,600, just to pay $2,100 5 months later...
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby chaz » Thu May 16, 2013 1:16 pm

IMO, buy now.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby campy2010 » Thu May 16, 2013 1:26 pm

Like others have said, high season is only getting closer so you need to pull the trigger soon.

Try pricing out flights into another city and connecting to Vienna either by a low cost carrier or by rail.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Imbros » Thu May 16, 2013 1:28 pm

ILnative wrote:Been there - I feel your pain. I think reality is that fares to Europe in high season are not going to go down at this point. I would buy it and forget about it and focus on what a great trip you will have!


+1

I assume you use kayak?
I would recommend checking vayama as well. Surprisingly, sometimes they find prices better than kayak's.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 16, 2013 1:31 pm

campy2010 wrote:Try pricing out flights into another city and connecting to Vienna either by a low cost carrier or by rail.


Thank you. I would do it if the price were my major concern. But then I could also take less convenient flights and save several hundred dollars. My main problem is that I got used to $1,850 and seeing it changed to $2,050 overnight is a bit of a shock. If I just started looking today, I would have just paid $2k.

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby climber2020 » Thu May 16, 2013 1:32 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I will be flying from D.C. to Vienna in late July. Last September my preferred itinerary on United Airlines was available for $1,500. I could not commit at the time and decided to wait. Once I have learned that I could make the trip, I started checking the prices. Up until a few days ago, I could have my itinerary for $1,850. As of 14 May, the same flights cost $2,050. Assuming that I don't want shopping around or getting different flights, should I lock into $2,050 or wait for the price to go down? If I wait, what should be the trigger to buy?

Students and practitioners of Behavioral Economics will recognize that I am suffering from anchoring (on schedules and prices) and prospective loss aversion. Responses to my question, however random they may be, would provide the wisdom of a crowd and help me to decide.

Thank you,
Victoria


Go to either United's website or one of the various travel sites like Orbitz and see how full the flights are. Usually as you select each flight, you can bring up a seat map. If there are only 3 seats left on the entire plane, you may want to lean toward buying. If a third of the plane is still empty, I would continue waiting.

I routinely follow airline prices, even after I buy my ticket. Sometimes huge price drops will occur 3-4 weeks prior to departure, even on international flights. Other times not. It's all a crapshoot.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby jon-nyc » Thu May 16, 2013 1:44 pm

Have you checked the premiums on the June calls?
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 16, 2013 1:46 pm

jon-nyc wrote:Have you checked the premiums on the June calls?


Please explain. How can I check them? What would the data mean?

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Barefootgirl » Thu May 16, 2013 3:23 pm

My fare to Las Vegas next month (just purchased this week) was nearly the same as what I paid 2 years ago to travel to Rome. As I watched prices, they were changing nearly hourly.

My speculation is that prices will continue to rise based on getting closer to the peak travel season (demand).

They must be using some interesting software to set prices for these fares.

As far as the overall trend, can we speculate that it's primarily due to increased energy costs?

Thanks, BFG
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby rjbraun » Thu May 16, 2013 10:13 pm

ExcelJunkie wrote:Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years. In the meantime we have a lack of visibility and are left hoping we got the best deal at the time of purchase.

One thing that may help is to delete your browsers cookies prior to visiting the airline's site - or use a different browser entirely. According to this article in USA Today some airline sites are increasing prices for returning visitors to encourage them to pull the trigger.

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/airfare- ... 30100.html

One important consideration when it comes to shopping for airline tickets on the Internet is to clear out the cookies in your computer system. Cookies are files that are stored on your computer to help identify what you viewed on a website. A site will recognize returning customers. Sometimes a person will return to an airline website and see the same deal she saw earlier instead of a potentially lower fare that would be displayed to someone who hadn’t visited the site before. By deleting the cookies, the site has no idea whether you’ve seen the fare before or not.


I've never tried deleting cookies to get a better price, but will be curious to hear from you if this impacted the rates. Best of luck!

Interesting, though I haven't had time yet to read the article. But I will say that I have been in a similar situation to VictoriaF for the past week or so, trying to figure out when to pull the trigger on buying tickets.

Bottom-line, I was shocked to see that the same flights could vary significantly in cost at basically the same point in time. I just happened to stumble on a much cheaper flight by using the "search flight" function on tripadvisor.com. I encourage others to try it. I don't know what's going on but I saved $200 off what would have been $800 tickets this way. And that was after tripadvisor redirected me to aa.com to purchase the tickets.

VictoriaF, in case you're flying American, I was able to hold a reservation -- with price guarantee -- for 24 hours on a couple of occasions during this process. This gave me a price ceiling that took some of the pressure off of not buying immediately.

Good luck with your purchase. Hope some of this may help

Edit: Are there websites that give recent prices of fares people have paid recently? I wondered this when I was debating what to pay. If there's not it sounds like helpful information, if there's a way to obtain it.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby rr2 » Thu May 16, 2013 10:19 pm

kayak.com also shows trends and recommendations. That might help a little.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby rjbraun » Thu May 16, 2013 10:26 pm

rr2 wrote:kayak.com also shows trends and recommendations. That might help a little.

Yeah, good point. I was using kayak.com for my recent purchase. I guess I was hoping for more detailed trend analysis, i.e., for specific flights on a given day, as opposed to all the flights for a given day which is my sense of what kayak.com offers. That said, kayak.com was indicating a period of lower prices at about the time I purchased my tickets, so I guess it's a decent indicator (though it's not what prompted my purchase).
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby momar » Thu May 16, 2013 10:47 pm

VictoriaF wrote: If I just started looking today, I would have just paid $2k.

There's your answer.

You won't feel as much regret once you pull the trigger. At least, I don't when I am in that kind of situation.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Puakinekine » Thu May 16, 2013 10:47 pm

I just checked United for the heck of it using a 24 July departure and a 2 week stay and came up with $1742 nonstop and $1663 with stops.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby StaTiK » Fri May 17, 2013 2:06 am

If it's a price you're willing to pay then buy now. Are you more afraid of missing a good deal or the price going up even further?
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby $Rookie » Fri May 17, 2013 2:53 am

Another thing to remember is a lot of credit cards offer price protection guarantees. Usually if the price drops within 60-90 days you can get reimbursement for the difference up to a certain amount. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and it offers up to $500 in reimbursements per year.

Looking through the benefits documents, I do not see anything that says air fare is excluded... Could be an option if you want to lock in the price.

You may want to verify it with your CC before taking my advice though.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby kramer » Fri May 17, 2013 3:40 am

A quick search on Kayak shows Turkish airlines offering round trips throughout this period in the $1300 range. And Aeroflot in the $1500 range. These are out of Dulles to Vienna and filtering out any flight legs longer than 18.5 hours.

Does this have something to do with very specific dates or you must fly out on a Friday or something?
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby wriggly » Fri May 17, 2013 4:05 am

ExcelJunkie wrote:Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years.


How about a site that lets you DCA into airfares? air-minimize-regret.com ?
:D
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Levett » Fri May 17, 2013 5:16 am

As you know, Victoria, inventory changes constantly.

I think Consumer Reports recommends the best shopping for fares is on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I hope you don't fly United overseas, as we recently did. The seats were designed by the Marquis de Sade! Service is awful.

Thankfully, we flew home on Lufthansa. :beer

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri May 17, 2013 7:06 am

wriggly wrote:
ExcelJunkie wrote:Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years.


How about a site that lets you DCA into airfares? air-minimize-regret.com ?
:D

With airfares, a lump sum (LS) approach would work better--just as it is preferred for (supposedly) perpetually rising stock prices.

Airlines could start Life Flier clubs with, e.g., $100,000 prepaid membership in the Economy class. I can think of several ways it could go wrong--airlines getting out of business, shortage of seats for life fliers--but psychologically it would work wonders. Studies show that people who buy annual memberships in gyms pay more than those who pay on shorter bases but experience a much lower pain of paying.

Victoria
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby gd » Fri May 17, 2013 7:41 am

I have been flying 1-2 times/year to the same destination in Europe for 10 years. My experience is that for the last year or two, the percentage changes do not drop significantly 2 months before, as they sometimes did. Prices trend upwards towards flight date as you have seen, with maybe 10% variation that I can't characterize. I speculate the airlines have adjusted their capacity. That said, note I'm phrasing that as percentage. A $200 dip in a $600 ticket 8 years ago is more noticeable than a $200 dip in the same $1200 ticket today. *If* it is really gone, I assume the international flight 60-day dip will live on in internet mythology for at least several years in story and hack internet-search journalism.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Iorek » Fri May 17, 2013 7:42 am

VictoriaF wrote:
wriggly wrote:
ExcelJunkie wrote:Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years.


How about a site that lets you DCA into airfares? air-minimize-regret.com ?
:D

With airfares, a lump sum (LS) approach would work better--just as it is preferred for (supposedly) perpetually rising stock prices.

Airlines could start Life Flier clubs with, e.g., $100,000 prepaid membership in the Economy class. I can think of several ways it could go wrong--airlines getting out of business, shortage of seats for life fliers--but psychologically it would work wonders. Studies show that people who buy annual memberships in gyms pay more than those who pay on shorter bases but experience a much lower pain of paying.

Victoria


If you poke around you can find articles on an airline (AA?) that sold lifetime airpasses once, and they are still regretting it.

I vote for buying now-- don't think about the $200 you missed out on, think about the $400 you are saving by not delaying further! :)
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby mike143 » Fri May 17, 2013 7:57 am

Google Historical flights DC area airports to Vienna

I found out the hard way that sometimes the car rental places raise there rates if shopping on Friday. Watch the price go up on Friday, got scared and bought, Monday prices went back down to Thursdays rate.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri May 17, 2013 8:41 am

Iorek wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
wriggly wrote:
ExcelJunkie wrote:Victoria - I'm a strong believer that the process of purchasing airline tickets is currently broken and is a field ripe for disruption in the coming years.


How about a site that lets you DCA into airfares? air-minimize-regret.com ?
:D

With airfares, a lump sum (LS) approach would work better--just as it is preferred for (supposedly) perpetually rising stock prices.

Airlines could start Life Flier clubs with, e.g., $100,000 prepaid membership in the Economy class. I can think of several ways it could go wrong--airlines getting out of business, shortage of seats for life fliers--but psychologically it would work wonders. Studies show that people who buy annual memberships in gyms pay more than those who pay on shorter bases but experience a much lower pain of paying.

Victoria


If you poke around you can find articles on an airline (AA?) that sold lifetime airpasses once, and they are still regretting it.


I found the reference in The Economist's blog dated 13 May 2012, Fly anywhere, any time, for life. It was American Airlines selling First Class passes for $250k (early 1980s) to ~$1m (1994). It was a great deal for the savvy public and a horrible one for AA. I suppose I can congratulate myself for independently coming up with a good consumer idea. Now, twenty years later, a great opportunity would be even shorter lived because of the speed of the news spread.

Victoria
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri May 17, 2013 8:44 am



This is a very useful link. Thanks!

Victoria
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Fri May 17, 2013 6:08 pm

Hi Victoria,

How important is the price vs. the convenience vs. the airline? I looked at Orbitz just now using 20 - 27 July and economy class. Here's what I found:

The least expensive one-stop is Aeroflot at $1432, through Moscow, using Boeing and Airbus equipment.

United, through Frankfurt, shows $1915, and total travel time (added up both directions) is about 7 hours less.

If your time or the airline is more valuable than your money then you're making a tradeoff which nobody but you can judge. Otherwise:

1432 / 1915 = 75%.

(1915 - 1432) / 7 = $69 / hour tax free.

PJW
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby TheGreyingDuke » Fri May 17, 2013 6:44 pm

Levett wrote:As you know, Victoria, inventory changes constantly.

I think Consumer Reports recommends the best shopping for fares is on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lev


Indeed, at least for domestic flights new fares are posted around 3 PM on Tuesday and as they do, other airlines flying the route will match them (or not.) Usually if there are any good deals, they are gone by the end of Wednesday.
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby wlpotts » Sat May 18, 2013 2:51 am

I suggest you to BUY, but make your purchase with a global perspective.

The US based airlines are, in my opinion, the bottom of the barrel for international travel. I emphatically encourage you to break nationalistic barriers and discover what the other carrier options are out there for you.

I've fiend US carriers for the past two years and have experienced the most incredible customer service, welcoming staff and inflight comfort that I've ever experienced in air travel. The US based air service is embarrassing as well as extremely frustrating.

Respectfully,

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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby dickenjb » Sat May 18, 2013 3:15 pm

Checked award availability IAD-VIE for July and it is very available throughout the month for 1 pax.

Coach RT for 60K miles and $149 in taxes.

Works out to ($2000-$149)/60,000 = 3.1 cpm (cents per mile)

A good redemption opportunity imho
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Re: Airfare keeps going up. Buy now or wait?

Postby midareff » Sat May 18, 2013 3:19 pm

You might try checking at 4 - 6 AM for a day or two on different carriers. You might catch one of those 2 seats only at this price offers.
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