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Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Old Apr 30th 2015, 11:38 am
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Default Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Our first grandchild over in Blighty is supposed to be arriving in early September, which (momentous) event I'd like to be on hand for, or soon after. But, as most parents know, the due date is only an estimate....

Any recommendations as to what I should do to keep flight costs down? Do I book the cheapest possible "Flex" ticket now... (And figuring out that is proving to be a mini-nightmare all its own. ) ...Or do I wait until close to the due date and then go for the lowest no-change fare?

I've never booked anything but the bog-standard no-change cheapest economy seat, so I have very little experience of the "flexible" fare categories, of which there seem to be a bewildering array of (expensive) choices, so I thought I'd ask if anyone here has wrestled with this issue. Any insights would be welcome.

I'm also looking into standby tickets. We have one air miles membership, but not many miles on it at this point....

Last edited by WEBlue; Apr 30th 2015 at 11:41 am.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 12:08 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

How much is the lowest priced refundable or changeable ticket? Sometimes you need to call the airline for this as not all offer it on line but most airlines do still have a refundable fare available.


Suppose it all boils down to if your willing to pay for flexibility, or want to risk specific dates and just hope for the best.

Any airline in mind? They all have variations of the rules.


A refundable fare bought in advance can be cheaper then a last minute restricted fare at times, that's why I asked.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 1:52 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
How much is the lowest priced refundable or changeable ticket? Sometimes you need to call the airline for this as not all offer it on line but most airlines do still have a refundable fare available.


Suppose it all boils down to if your willing to pay for flexibility, or want to risk specific dates and just hope for the best.

Any airline in mind? They all have variations of the rules.


A refundable fare bought in advance can be cheaper then a last minute restricted fare at times, that's why I asked.
The cheapest airlines for the basic no-change economy ticket seem to be Icelandair and Aer Lingus, but once you request changeable tickets/dates, their prices go up by <>$500, plus there are some fees (can be substantial)depending on the flight (cost & availability) you want to change it over to.

Calling the airlines is a good idea, because the info online is quite confusing for several of the airlines. I'm going to try that.

I'm somewhat flexible as far as to which day of the week I land and which airport (of the 2/3? airports) in or near London. And I don't need a non-stop flight.

The ideal is that I'd hear the baby is coming & I jump on skyscanner or Kyak and get a great cheap last-minute flight 2 or 3 days later. Somehow I fear a nice cheap seat just won't happen at the end of August/first weeks of Sept....

Unfortunately, babies can come up to two weeks before or after their due dates. And first babies are notoriously difficult to predict. (My own children came before their due dates, but I'm told by several mums that's unusual & first babies are more usually late. )

Last edited by WEBlue; Apr 30th 2015 at 3:34 pm.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 3:26 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

You won't get any bargains with a flexible ticket, nor any bargains at less than a week's notice either. So, ultimately it's a question of what you can afford and how important is it to be there at any specific time? That is an apples and oranges comparison that only you can make.

If the time is important to you, and it sounds like it might be, then booking a flexible ticket would be my recommendation, but you'll likely be paying 50% or more over the cheapest possible price (20% over run-of-the-mill economy flights for your time of travel). .... Say $2,000+ for $1,500 ticket.

And if you go down the "flexible ticket" route then I would certainly recommend a non-stop flight if possible because of the liklihood of complications when rescheduling flights on a multi-leg itinerary.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 4:21 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

As everyone else has said, flexible tickets are always gonna be significantly more expensive. I always fly BA, and it's been a long time since booking at a different time has made any difference to the price. The fare's seem to remain fairly static these days in my experience.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 5:25 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
You won't get any bargains with a flexible ticket, nor any bargains at less than a week's notice either. So, ultimately it's a question of what you can afford and how important is it to be there at any specific time? That is an apples and oranges comparison that only you can make.
Yes, good point. Luckily this is not something like a seriously ill relative or say a funeral, where I MUST be there by a specific date.

I'd say I could arrive up to 10 days later and still be very very useful to the parents, if the price difference made it worth waiting that long.

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
If the time is important to you, and it sounds like it might be, then booking a flexible ticket would be my recommendation, but you'll likely be paying 50% or more over the cheapest possible price (20% over run-of-the-mill economy flights for your time of travel). .... Say $2,000+ for $1,500 ticket.
Yes, that's the price range I've found. The thing the bothers me is that even paying that higher price for a so-called "Flex" ticket doesn't guarantee I'll pay no more to change my flight date. There are more fees on top of that alluded to in the T&Cs of many/most of those flexible tickets. This is the grey area I'm trying to get a handle on--how high can these fees run? I think I have to call each airline I'm interested in & ask, though.

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
And if you go down the "flexible ticket" route then I would certainly recommend a non-stop flight if possible because of the liklihood of complications when rescheduling flights on a multi-leg itinerary.
Yes, absolutely! I'd only do stop-overs if I buy a last-minute no-changes ticket close to time....

This is also why I'm dealing directly with the airline too, not going through Expedia et al IF I do choose to go the flexible ticket route.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 5:33 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by markonline1 View Post
As everyone else has said, flexible tickets are always gonna be significantly more expensive. I always fly BA, and it's been a long time since booking at a different time has made any difference to the price. The fare's seem to remain fairly static these days in my experience.
My problem is ... if I do choose to forgo the expensive advance flexible ticket, do I have a chance of getting ANY seat in the last half of August/first half of September that's less than astronomical in price because I'm booking it only a week to 10 days ahead?

Also my husband says he can't deal with the stress of waiting--he wants me to nail down a flexible ticket, then deal with any extra fees if necessary....
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 5:40 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by WEBlue View Post
My problem is ... if I do choose to forgo the expensive advance flexible ticket, do I have a chance of getting ANY seat in the last half of August/first half of September that's less than astronomical in price because I'm booking it only a week to 10 days ahead?

Also my husband says he can't deal with the stress of waiting--he wants me to nail down a flexible ticket, then deal with any extra fees if necessary....
You do run the risk of getting severely stung in the pocket if you book last minute. It all depends on how busy the flight is.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 7:34 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by WEBlue View Post
My problem is ... if I do choose to forgo the expensive advance flexible ticket, do I have a chance of getting ANY seat in the last half of August/first half of September that's less than astronomical in price because I'm booking it only a week to 10 days ahead?

Also my husband says he can't deal with the stress of waiting--he wants me to nail down a flexible ticket, then deal with any extra fees if necessary....
I don't know about European airlines, but most of the US airlines will let you cancel a non-refundable ticket and then use the value of said ticket towards another flight, minus any change fees they charge.

But booking less then 14 days out will cost a small fortune especially so on an international flight.

Even 14 days out doesn't lead to many low fares these days, but anything closer eliminates a whole slew of fares limiting your chances to a good price.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 8:36 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

I agree that you need to determine exactly how inflexible the cheap tickets are, and how flexible the flexible ones are. IME, the cheap ones usually allow date changes with a fee, possibly plus the difference in fare. Whichever way you go, you will be subject to seat availability, so if it's high season, there's a chance you won't get a seat with a purchase or change in any given week anyway.

I say just take a best guess and buy a cheap ticket now... Although, if you buy a flexible ticket and something cheaper comes up closer to the date, you could always cancel the flexible one (depending on the cancellation fee).
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 8:49 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Book a flexible ticket - like your husband says and reduce the stress. It's not everyday that a grandchild arrives.....you can buy the cheap tickets for baby's first christmas, first easter, birthdays, etc...

Although, saying that, I think there was some recent info that booking it 3 months out was the cheapest time.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

I was just on BA website to look at Christmas flights. 2 round trip 17th - 28th Dec was $2700 for 2. Booking in advance I think will be the route for me, so maybe something to think about.
In the past I have booked in advance then changed the day and it cost me $150 (depends on the day of the week apparently) I spoke to BA directly to do that.
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 10:12 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

We travel to and fro regularly and go with United's cheapest fare. It usually costs around the £600 range, except for Summer when it goes up on a square law! We often change, in fact we have this trip and it has cost and extra £131. The only charge was the changing flight cost, flight itself was the same. I fear you are travelling peak season though so may be somewhat different.

Good luck
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Old Apr 30th 2015, 11:09 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Checking AA website from Boston (not sure what city you would use, just see if have New England listed) and Aug 29 to Sept 7, fully refundable fares are in the 1480 to 1600 one way range.

The flight is on BA however.


Delta is the same price, but has restrictions and change fees.

I used one way for simplicity. I would have though AA would charge more for a refundable fare to be honest. I checked out of curiosity.

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Old Apr 30th 2015, 11:53 pm
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Default Re: Book flex ticket now, or wait & buy no-change fare?

Originally Posted by TopSec View Post
We travel to and fro regularly and go with United's cheapest fare. It usually costs around the £600 range, except for Summer when it goes up on a square law! We often change, in fact we have this trip and it has cost and extra £131. ......
I'm not sure if you know, but transatlantic flights originating in the UK are significantly cheaper than identical flights (same two airports, same time of year) originating in the US.
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