Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

We are planning on going to the U.K. (England + Scotland) with a 2-3 day detour to Paris next July. Trip length is still undecided but looking at maybe 2 weeks. We will have 3 elementary aged kids with us.

When's the best time buy tickets? I can fly out of any of the major TX airports. Should we be looking now which is almost a year in advance or in 6 months? Target date is sometime in July to cover one of the kid's birthday, but are otherwise flexible as long as school is out.

Also, what's the best way to get from England to Paris? Train or airline?

ETA:
Any reason to be worried about tourist travel to U.K. and brexit (whether it happens or not)?
Last edited by new2bogle on Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
banhbao
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:54 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by banhbao »

Hello new2bogle,

According to this article on ThePointsGuy website, you should target 160 days from your departure date for flights to Europe:

https://thepointsguy.com/news/best-time ... al-flight/
Europe:
Prime booking window: About 1.5 months to a little more than 8 months
Best time to buy: 160 days from your travel date
The average airfare: $1,151
Cheapest month to travel: March
Most expensive month to travel: July
Least expensive days of week to fly: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Note that you are targeting the "most expensive month to travel: July". Are you "locked-in" to a specific airline or airline alliance? Are you looking for direct flights, or do you mind having a layover in Ireland, for example? This can make a big difference depending on your flexibility.

As far as getting from London to Paris, you could take the Eurostar train, but there are also probably a lot of cheap flights (i.e., easyjet, wow, etc.).
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

banhbao wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:37 am Hello new2bogle,

According to this article on ThePointsGuy website, you should target 160 days from your departure date for flights to Europe:

https://thepointsguy.com/news/best-time ... al-flight/
Europe:
Prime booking window: About 1.5 months to a little more than 8 months
Best time to buy: 160 days from your travel date
The average airfare: $1,151
Cheapest month to travel: March
Most expensive month to travel: July
Least expensive days of week to fly: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Note that you are targeting the "most expensive month to travel: July". Are you "locked-in" to a specific airline or airline alliance? Are you looking for direct flights, or do you mind having a layover in Ireland, for example? This can make a big difference depending on your flexibility.

As far as getting from London to Paris, you could take the Eurostar train, but there are also probably a lot of cheap flights (i.e., easyjet, wow, etc.).
Thanks for the link - interesting information.

I've noticed so far that traveling end of May (right after school ends) is $400/person cheaper, which multiplied by 5 is pretty significant. So I'm not completely locked into July, but breaking up the summer with a trip in the middle would be fun too.

I can look up train vs. airline cost but what is less of a hassle? Going to a London airport for a flight or a train station for a train ride?
mageedge
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:39 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by mageedge »

As your research noted - earlier flights will be cheaper, July is 'prime time' for tourists and, these days, the weather in either city can be unpleasantly hot.

Particularly with 3 little ones in tow I'd take Eurostar everytime -

city center-city center
train to-from airport is 20 minutes (and costly) in London and 40 minutes in Paris.
lead time for check-in - 2 hours airport vs. 30 minutes train
no need to check bags so no need to wait for baggage on arrival
more room on the train for people to move around.

Actual in-transit time is aound 1 hour+ for flight and 2 hours+ for train.
Generally the further out you can book Eurostar the better price you'll get
Jazzysoon
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by Jazzysoon »

You might also want to factor in UK School Holidays. When they are on Summer Holiday it's prime time for families to travel, so Crowded, long lines.

https://www.schoolholidayseurope.eu/sch ... s-2020-uk/.
adamthesmythe
Posts: 3759
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by adamthesmythe »

Yes, July is not the ideal month, both from the point of view of weather and prices.

Personally I would take the Eurostar. Partly for the experience (I can remember back when one took a ferry across the channel) and partly because Charles DeGaulle wins prizes for the most confusing and unpleasant airport.
stan1
Posts: 8886
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by stan1 »

Definitely take Eurostar from London to Paris. Plus kids will enjoy it.
123
Posts: 6380
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by 123 »

You may want to consider an "Open Jaw" itinerary where you fly into London and return from Paris (or the reverse). Doing that gives you extra time because you eliminate a day of backtracking.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
02nz
Posts: 5553
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by 02nz »

Google Flights. It allows you to input multiple departure/arrival irports at once. I’m seeing some <$600 round trip fares on United if you fly from Dallas and connect via Houston, less than half the cost of just booking the nonstop Houston-London flight.

Brexit will no have real impact on tourists (well, other than the fall of the pound, which is good for you!). The UK isn’t part of Schengen so traveling between the UK and say France has always meant going through passport control on both ends.

I agree with the suggestion on Eurostar - the kids will enjoy it and it’s much easier than flying. (Strangely there are no flights from any London airport to Paris’ close-in airport, Orly, so there’s no avoiding the horror that is CDG if you fly.)
djheini
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:53 pm
Location: Boston area

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by djheini »

123 wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:43 am You may want to consider an "Open Jaw" itinerary where you fly into London and return from Paris (or the reverse). Doing that gives you extra time because you eliminate a day of backtracking.
It will also let you save the Air Passenger Duty taxes which the UK imposes on departures, which approaches $100/person (and more if you aren't flying economy)
bob60014
Posts: 1686
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by bob60014 »

Use Google flights, enter your itinerary(s) and at the point where you get the round trip prices click on the Track Prices option. You will get alerts if the prices fall or rise. If you find a price you like, dont delay and act fast as many good fares are not available for long.
bgreat
Posts: 112
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:48 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by bgreat »

new2bogle wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:17 am When's the best time buy tickets? I can fly out of any of the major TX airports. Should we be looking now which is almost a year in advance or in 6 months? Target date is sometime in July to cover one of the kid's birthday, but are otherwise flexible as long as school is out.
Never, followed by yesterday. It's as big a gamble as timing the markets. Maybe 160 days works well, but starting now is probably OK too.
Also, what's the best way to get from England to Paris? Train or airline?
Depends on where in England you are. Eurostar is convenient from London, but from other locations the flight can be much more convenient, and potentially cheaper. Bear in mind that border handling for Eurostar could become a big mess come Brexit, because everyone disagrees with everyone else when it comes to clearance before entering the train.
ETA:
Any reason to be worried about tourist travel to U.K. and brexit (whether it happens or not)?
Former colonies and commonwealth countries are being added to the list of nationalities being allowed to use automatic E-border-gates, so I'd say you're actually going to get a better experience than in the past assuming you're of the dominant nationality on these boards. Unless you're an EU citizen resident in the UK or vice-versa, then Brexit has pretty much no relevance.
neilpilot
Posts: 3392
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by neilpilot »

123 wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:43 am You may want to consider an "Open Jaw" itinerary where you fly into London and return from Paris (or the reverse). Doing that gives you extra time because you eliminate a day of backtracking.
This advice is spot on. Also, since New2bogle indicates that they plan to travel to "U.K. (England + Scotland) with a 2-3 day detour to Paris" the most efficient itinerary would be to fly into London, then make your way thru the UK to Scotland, and take a cheap flight to Paris at the end of the UK itinerary. I recently looked at Edinburgh-to-Paris flights for September, an OW tickets were running around $100 nonstop and as low as under $50 if you want to go on the cheap and book a one stop (not recommended).

This will avoid the time and expense of backtracking from Scotland to England.
02nz
Posts: 5553
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by 02nz »

Keep the open-jaw possibility in mind but when I checked some random dates next May/June, flying into London and out of Paris was almost twice the cost of a round trip into/out of London. Surprised me as I thought saving the APD on the return would mean a lower fare, apparently not.
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

I've never heard of the term "open jaw" but I assume this means the "multi city" option on the various airline booking websites. I had not thought of that - what a great idea!

I did a preliminary check and it's about $200/person more to do this, but will be infinitely more practical! I was actually in my head already dreading to go back to London from Paris for the trip home.

Thanks for all the tips so far - you've all been very helpful. (and yes there will be future posts on tips for this trip over the next few months :D )
Valuethinker
Posts: 41120
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by Valuethinker »

new2bogle wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:17 am We are planning on going to the U.K. (England + Scotland) with a 2-3 day detour to Paris next July. Trip length is still undecided but looking at maybe 2 weeks. We will have 3 elementary aged kids with us.

When's the best time buy tickets? I can fly out of any of the major TX airports. Should we be looking now which is almost a year in advance or in 6 months? Target date is sometime in July to cover one of the kid's birthday, but are otherwise flexible as long as school is out.

Also, what's the best way to get from England to Paris? Train or airline?

ETA:
Any reason to be worried about tourist travel to U.K. and brexit (whether it happens or not)?
Whoosh. Is it really worth the Paris detour?

Given you have only 2 weeks, and you have the whole of the United Kingdom to see? I'd spend another couple of days in the Scottish Highlands. Or go to York (city walls, cathedral, railway museum) on the way back from Edinburgh to London. Maybe drive up into the Yorkshire Moors. I loved the castles in Wales (Conwy, Harlech).

Big cities you have London and there's a weeks worth of stuff to see there, if you choose. Even elementary kids there's Westminster Cathedral and St Paul's. They do kids tours of Globe Theatre. There's HMS Belfast (WW2 cruiser, fought on D Day). National Maritime Museum. Science Museum. Natural History Museum. Imperial War Museum. Kew Gardens. Hampstead Heath. Olympic Park. Legoland at Windsor. Museum of Childhood (which oddly wasn't that kid friendly, but it is being revamped - not sure if re opened). London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Hamley's toy store (parents beware - this is stressful).

You can ride double decker buses everywhere and really see the city - I still remember that, fascinated, back in the 1970s. Ride in the back of a London cab |(once, they are expensive).

There are family-appropriate theatre shows like The Lion King. The Lady in Black is probably too scary for younger folks but as a kid I was fascinated by The Mousetrap (1930s murder mystery - may be a little too slow and adult).

In London you can walk and play on the grass - the city is full of parks. In Paris officials will shoo you off.

From London it's generally easier to take Eurostar from St Pancras (part of Kings Cross station) than to fly. Airports in England can be hell with delays, air traffic controllers in France go on strike, etc.

Brexit I would not worry too hard about. You don't want to try to do this over 31 Oct 2019, but by then we should be well and truly out.
User avatar
Artful Dodger
Posts: 1042
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:56 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by Artful Dodger »

Oddly enough, I just researched tics to London, but it was for a mid October trip, and the prices blew my mind. Flying from Chicago to LHR was mid $600s roundtrip, and that was regular coach, not basic economy which was mid $500s. I know it's not helpful for a July trip, but I just couldn't believe it.

We'll be going right before the brexit deadline, so could be interesting. No idea what you would have in store come July, though I expect it will be either all over or another delay.

The train (chunnel) is the easiest transfer between London and Paris.
User avatar
6miths
Posts: 784
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by 6miths »

stan1 wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:28 am Definitely take Eurostar from London to Paris. Plus kids will enjoy it.
But definitely do not take it from Paris to London. Delay going into UK related to immigration is way too long to warrant the novelty of the rapid train trip.
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain
otinkyad
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:35 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by otinkyad »

I’ve found prices are best between 6 and 2 months out. The 2 months side is a hard limit, do not mess with it.
Valuethinker wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:30 pm Whoosh. Is it really worth the Paris detour?
Yes. London-Eurostar-Paris on an open jaw is a classic travel plan that works on many levels. We used it to introduce our 6 and 8-year-olds to international travel.
GuyInFL
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by GuyInFL »

Another way to do open jaw is to purchase two one-way tickets.
Check the discounters, like Norwegian, as well on google flights. You never know when the deals will show up but be ready to purchase quickly. I recently purchase round trip tickets from Orlando to London on Delta for $350 almost a year out so you never know what deals will pop up.
rj49
Posts: 566
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:22 am

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by rj49 »

You might look at a US flight to a gateway city for Norwegian Air, which offers very cheap direct flights to Gatwick on mostly new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. If you want to splurge a bit, you can get their upgraded class at a reasonable price as well, with nice recliner seats. If you fly into Gatwick, it might be worth paying for their expedited customs clearance service, since the customs lines there can be horrendous, and for 10 pounds or so you go through a fast lane--you book online before your trip. There's no penalty on Norwegian for buying one-way flights, and the UK charges an exit tax for US flights from UK, which makes it even more tempting to return to the US from a different country. Other budget airlines that can get you to and from Europe are Aer LIngus and Iceland Air, which I like because it's easy to break up a Europe trip into shorter flights (Boston-Dublin in 6 hours, or Seattle-Reykyavik in 7), which could be much easier on kids.

Flying anywhere in Europe from London is dirt cheap, with the presence of Ryanair, Easyjet, and even British Air having to match super-budget fares. I prefer Easyjet out of Gatwick, since I was already familiar with the airport and so it's less stressful than dealing with train stations and procedures (as well as Chunnel claustrophobia).

Of course, as in the US, all the budget airlines make money off of baggage and other fees, so you have to factor those in to various options.
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

Valuethinker wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:30 pm Whoosh. Is it really worth the Paris detour?
Unfortunately yes. My kids will kill me if we are "only hours" away from the Eiffel tower and they don't get to see it.
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

otinkyad wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:45 pm I’ve found prices are best between 6 and 2 months out. The 2 months side is a hard limit, do not mess with it.
Valuethinker wrote: Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:30 pm Whoosh. Is it really worth the Paris detour?
Yes. London-Eurostar-Paris on an open jaw is a classic travel plan that works on many levels. We used it to introduce our 6 and 8-year-olds to international travel.
Nice, my kids will be 9, 7 and 5 (yeah a little young for the 5 year old but he's smart as ****). First international trip (well second if you count the cruise to Mexico, but no real travel in Mexico..)
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

GuyInFL wrote: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:11 am Another way to do open jaw is to purchase two one-way tickets.
Check the discounters, like Norwegian, as well on google flights. You never know when the deals will show up but be ready to purchase quickly. I recently purchase round trip tickets from Orlando to London on Delta for $350 almost a year out so you never know what deals will pop up.
I did look at Norwegian but the reviews are just awful. I'd do it for myself + DW, but with the kids' first time international flight, I want it to be more smooth. Don't want them turned off to seeing other cultures because the airline sucked. If we can ease them into something not too culturally shocking like the U.K. (and maybe Paris) then the trip to Japan/China for my wife's 40th should be easier. I hope.
Topic Author
new2bogle
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by new2bogle »

rj49 wrote: Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:27 am You might look at a US flight to a gateway city for Norwegian Air, which offers very cheap direct flights to Gatwick on mostly new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. If you want to splurge a bit, you can get their upgraded class at a reasonable price as well, with nice recliner seats. If you fly into Gatwick, it might be worth paying for their expedited customs clearance service, since the customs lines there can be horrendous, and for 10 pounds or so you go through a fast lane--you book online before your trip. There's no penalty on Norwegian for buying one-way flights, and the UK charges an exit tax for US flights from UK, which makes it even more tempting to return to the US from a different country. Other budget airlines that can get you to and from Europe are Aer LIngus and Iceland Air, which I like because it's easy to break up a Europe trip into shorter flights (Boston-Dublin in 6 hours, or Seattle-Reykyavik in 7), which could be much easier on kids.

Flying anywhere in Europe from London is dirt cheap, with the presence of Ryanair, Easyjet, and even British Air having to match super-budget fares. I prefer Easyjet out of Gatwick, since I was already familiar with the airport and so it's less stressful than dealing with train stations and procedures (as well as Chunnel claustrophobia).

Of course, as in the US, all the budget airlines make money off of baggage and other fees, so you have to factor those in to various options.
Thanks will look into it!
curmudgeon
Posts: 2089
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by curmudgeon »

new2bogle wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:55 am
GuyInFL wrote: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:11 am Another way to do open jaw is to purchase two one-way tickets.
Check the discounters, like Norwegian, as well on google flights. You never know when the deals will show up but be ready to purchase quickly. I recently purchase round trip tickets from Orlando to London on Delta for $350 almost a year out so you never know what deals will pop up.
I did look at Norwegian but the reviews are just awful. I'd do it for myself + DW, but with the kids' first time international flight, I want it to be more smooth. Don't want them turned off to seeing other cultures because the airline sucked. If we can ease them into something not too culturally shocking like the U.K. (and maybe Paris) then the trip to Japan/China for my wife's 40th should be easier. I hope.
I've flown most of the major airlines of the world, and while Norwegian certainly isn't up there with Singapore or Etihad, they can be a perfectly reasonable option. I did an 11-hour flight with them recently (west coast to Copenhagen) because they had the best routing and flight days for what we wanted, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Economy seating was pretty much the same as any other airline 787 economy (better than many of the older planes on legacy airlines). I've heard that sometimes when they are short on 787s, some Norwegian Boston or New York flights have used old chartered clunker planes substituted for the 787, which would be a bummer. A couple of other caveats; their short-haul intra-europe flights will be typical euro budget planes with no legroom and picky policies, and I would just assume that you will pay the higher price for seat assignment and some checked bags (meal was pretty mediocre, even for airline food).

There is lots of weirdness to airline pricing, so it can be worth checking out alternative cities as your starting point.
neilpilot
Posts: 3392
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Best time to purchase airline tickets to London

Post by neilpilot »

curmudgeon wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:38 pm
new2bogle wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:55 am
GuyInFL wrote: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:11 am Another way to do open jaw is to purchase two one-way tickets.
Check the discounters, like Norwegian, as well on google flights. You never know when the deals will show up but be ready to purchase quickly. I recently purchase round trip tickets from Orlando to London on Delta for $350 almost a year out so you never know what deals will pop up.
I did look at Norwegian but the reviews are just awful. I'd do it for myself + DW, but with the kids' first time international flight, I want it to be more smooth. Don't want them turned off to seeing other cultures because the airline sucked. If we can ease them into something not too culturally shocking like the U.K. (and maybe Paris) then the trip to Japan/China for my wife's 40th should be easier. I hope.
I've flown most of the major airlines of the world, and while Norwegian certainly isn't up there with Singapore or Etihad, they can be a perfectly reasonable option. I did an 11-hour flight with them recently (west coast to Copenhagen) because they had the best routing and flight days for what we wanted, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Economy seating was pretty much the same as any other airline 787 economy (better than many of the older planes on legacy airlines). I've heard that sometimes when they are short on 787s, some Norwegian Boston or New York flights have used old chartered clunker planes substituted for the 787, which would be a bummer. A couple of other caveats; their short-haul intra-europe flights will be typical euro budget planes with no legroom and picky policies, and I would just assume that you will pay the higher price for seat assignment and some checked bags (meal was pretty mediocre, even for airline food).

There is lots of weirdness to airline pricing, so it can be worth checking out alternative cities as your starting point.
While I generally agree with Carmudgeon, Norwegian is somewhat shaky financially and also has recently relied on wet leases since a portion of their 787 fleet is currently grounded for airworthiness issues. Having said that, I've flown them on 2 long hauls and they cancelled only 50% of my flights for mechanical issues. :D

There is a distinct advantage when flying Norwegian and other airlines that follow EU 261/2004, since you can claim decent compensation for late or cancelled flights to/from Europe. The US carriers aren't subject to the same regulations.

My next flight on Norwegian isn't until 9/19!
Post Reply