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4 replies
Advanced versus day-before booking?
rl1qaz
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This is my first post here on Eurotrip, the first of what my guess will be many.
 
I am traveling to eastern Europe this summer (approx. July 10 – July 28) with two other school friends, we forsee the largest expense for us to be airfare, especially that time of year.  Looking through site after site of booking engines (farecompare, STA, Kayak, Hotwire, Orbitz, etc…) the cheapest flights we can find from MSP (St.paul, minneapolis international airport) to Paris, Frankfurt, or Zurich are just over $1000.
 
Given that we are students, and like everybody else, we are very interested in finding the cheapest flights available. One question we have is, is our best bet for inexpensive flights going to be booking now (as far in advance as possible), or booking our flights 3, 4, or 5 days in advanced for a flight that is underbooked. Understandably there are significant risks involved in the latter plan, is that even a logical strategy, or is it just a dumb idea?
 
Also, to all you traveling veterans, if you have any other advice or suggestions regarding our airfare situation we are all ears.
 
Thanks much

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The odds of getting a cheap flight the day before, particularly in the height of summer, are close to zero.

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Not a good idea. It’s a myth that airfares from USA-Europe are cheaper if you wait until last-minute. In summer especially, flights are oversold, and you most likely won’t get a seat, and if you do, it will cost the full walk-up fare—typically $1800+ if there’s still a seat available in economy class.

For MSP-Europe outbound July, I’d want to book no later than mid-May. The best fare could happen anytime from now until mid-May. In fact, you might have already found the best airfare for this itinerary.

I would continue to check more places, and sign up for fare alerts to your email with Farecompare.com. You didn’t mention student ticket sites, so also try Studentuniverse.com, STATravel.com, Travelcuts.com, and Generationfly.com. Also check out Icelandair.com since they serve MSP and Europe.

Currently, cheapest I see is Copenhagen at $992rt total with Icelandair, but I didn’t check student sites for you.

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Although not a student, I was also looking for a flight from MSP to Europe this summer.  I watched airfares for a full three months before booking a flight through Icelandair for about $990 (travelling in June).  When I started looking, I was also new to the process (never been to Europe before).  From my experience thus far, any fare that you can get for under $1000 is pretty good.  If some big sale pops up this Spring, I may regret booking so early.  However, from my research on this site and others, there’s a very good chance that those sales will not materialize.  There are two huge factors working against you.  The first is fuel prices and is self-explanitory.  The second is the exchange rate.  Major European air carriers are dealing in Euros, but you’re paying in US dollars.  As the US Dollar slips further and further, the European carriers are actually getting fewer Euros even though you’re paying the same number of Dollars.  Price increases are almost inevitable.

I am leaving from Minneapolis and traveling for 24 days
Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Heidelberg, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Ljubljana, Budapest
rl1qaz
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Thank you all for the responses. I think that we will be booking our flights in the coming weeks from MSP to PRA (prague), as our trip will actually begin in prague, curse the weak dollar, and this way we wouldn’t have to worry about train tickets from Frankfurt or paris to Prague.
Any and all suggestions are welcome.
 
Thanks much.