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20 replies
Finding Best Flights
Knic
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Hello folks,

I have been reading posts on this site for a long time (awesome site!)and I haven’t seen an answer to my question though I hope I didn’t miss anything as not to bore anyone.

My son and I are traveling to the UK this summer on my dream vacation. From reading on this site it appears that it is best to book our flight from Mid March to the end of May for the best possible cost for summer travel deals while still feeling secure that we have something set. We live near LAX and I am thinking about traveling to NYC for a couple days and then going on to London. So with this in mind, our flight plans would be LAX (or OC which is closer) to NYC, then a couple days later from NYC to LON and then to get home from LON to LAX. We will be in the UK approx 14 days (this is slightly flexible) and we can travel (leaving date) anywhere from the end of June to the middle of August. Sorry for the long intro, my question is this:

Is it best when checking online (I’ve been visiting all the sites listed here) to have set dates or flexible dates to get the best deals? I have read a lot here about &quotlaying" with dates for the best rates but I am uncertain if that means playing with strict dates or the flexible dates. Some sites offer 1 – 3 days, some offer more flexibility and then of course the strict dates option for checking for cheapest rates. What method is best for me for getting the best deals?

Thank you all in advance for any ideas you may have, it is greatly appreciated.

Traveler
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I hope you can get away this time. I know you’ve had some obstacles along the way.

Look at this post for some tips (as well as elsewhere in the forum and on flyertalk.com):
http://www.eurotrip….

I strongly suspect you’ll do best by taking the LAX-NYC and NYC-UK parts separately, but it’s possible there’s a very elegant stopover plan that would work for you. Maybe a travel agent could figure that out. But I’d start by figuring out the cheapest possibilities with two separate tickets. Then you could ask a travel agent to price out an arrangement involving stopovers, and compare the two.

I think your main concern is getting the cheapest NYC-UK flights.
Do a month-long search on ITASoftware.com starting with the very earliest date you can leave from NYC.
Select 13-14 days, or 14-15 days if you prefer, for the length of your trip.
In the Departure airport, put
NYC

In the Arrival airport, put
LON;GLA;MAN;

No guarantee ITASoftware will find everything – it did not find the cheap fare I recently located for my dates. So also try working with TravelCuts.com (particularly because your son is a student) and STATravel.com – either online or with a live agent.

For LAX-NYC, I’d look at the various budget possibilities, and consider alternate airports.

Also try Mobissimo.

No one can say what the best approach all the time is – it’s guesswork, as educated as we can make it. You’ll just have to do a lot of searches.

Don
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I agree with Traveler’s advice. I ran ITA as suggested and best it found was 721 NYC-LON. Using Travelocity’s flexible date search found 655 total on Virgin using Jun28\Jul13. For LAX/socal to NYC, try www.jetblue.com

Knic
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Traveler and Don, THANK YOU so much for your ideas.

Traveler, yes you are right its been a long time coming. I finally figured out the passport/travel issues with my son and I now have a part time job waitressing on weekends (yep currently working seven days a week with an odd day off here and there) to make this vacation (and a few other things) happen. I agree, probably better to book the flights seperate and yes I am mostly worried about the NYC to LON flight price as domestic flights seem to always have good deals here and there.

Don, yes I heard that Jet Blue is one of my best bets for a flight from from LAX to NYC. Also the $655.00 is better then what I have found lately (anywhere as high as $850+ each for LAX to LON!) as I was looking more in July and August figuring I would have more money saved up but I will certainly try to figure out the late June angle now that it appears to be a bit cheaper. I wish I could travel off season but I have this thing about my son not missing school so for now I have to work with the school vacation seasons.

Thank you again, I really appreciate this site and both of you have offered so many great advice, between the two of you alone I have learned so much. By the end of this month I will have the money to book the flight so going to try all sites mentioned. Take care. I’ll keep you posted.

wonderbird
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Unless you REALLY want to combine a trip to NYC with a trip to UK I suggest splitting it into seperate trips. Why? Living close to LAX you can fly round trip to London for $353.00 round trip!!! (I recommend a seperate trip to NYC sometime)

IF you plan on staying in London make SURE that you reserve a room for at least the day your arrive and the night before you depart… (If you travel light you can hop the subway STRAIGHT from the airport to your lodging if you plan on staying in London at all…) Make sure you figure out which subway line and stop your lodging is close to and you can check out all of the subway maps on line… Do NOT get a rent a car for London if you plan on staying there at all.. (Be pretty useless and the cost of parking would be more than the cost of the car itself.)
Beware of some of the cheap "hostel" type lodging… We ended up having our "confirmed reservations" not be there for us when we showed up with no instant refund either… You can expect reputable lodging to be close to $100.00 a day with far less elegant surroundings as low as $50.00 a day. (But be aware the cheap AND reputable lodging fills up fast.) If all else fails follow the backpackers…

The best location I found for car rentals in Europe is ECONOMYTRAVEL.COM (Make sure you book (and pay for it?) with a Gold Card so you can avoid the extra insurance charges…)

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Oh. By the way… Have documentation proving either sole custody or a NOTORIZED letter from the other parent giving their consent to your son leaving the country with you or you might end up watching your plane leave without you….

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wonderbird, I really doubt you can get a $353 fare for LAX-LON in July. If you find it, definitely post it.

For accommodation in London, I am once again using Priceline. My daughter and I will be staying at Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in August which I got for a bid of $77 USD + taxes and fees.

Other accommodation options besides hostels: student dorms. On the hostelworld site there are several that are very good deals with twin-bed rooms. One is International House on Lambeth Road, another is Wigram House near Victoria Station, and there are several other options also for a summer visit.

wonderbird
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Sorry. You are right… Prices go up dramatically in the end of March… (Even then you have a couple hundred in taxes added on…) I did not read her(guess) original post well enough. I thought travelling was in late March… What was actually said was planning to buy tickets in late March through….

My wife and I went on a 3 week trip to Europe a couple years ago and left late spring. Saved about $1,000 that way… (Spent it in other ways though :-> )

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That works well if you aren’t traveling with school-age kids.

Knic
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Thank you Wonderbird for your ideas. Gosh would I not love a $353 fare! lol! As mentioned by Traveler and you for summer they are much higher. In three weeks I will be in the position to purchase our tickets 100% and I check online (thanks eurotrip, Don and Traveler, for all the links!) all the time for deals but I am willing to wait until mid May at the latest to see what develops fare wise. I just want to be secure in knowing that this is taken care of so not willing to wait for last minute details.

I have decided to go straight to LON from LAX and save New York for another time. I have actually read that it is better to save exploring London for the last of the trip rather then the first of the trip so we may be staying only in London for a day if that, as it makes sense to me. I may rent a car immediately and head north for my Scottish friends place via a few stops and enjoy London at the end of our trip when we have adjusted a bit. But as you said, I agree it is better to have the first few nights set up which I plan on doing. Once in London though, yep, no car as there is no need.

Wow Traveler those are great rates for summer through Priceline. I am waiting to book hotels and B&B’s of course until I purchase out flight tickets but I will definitly check out Priceline when I am ready.

In terms of the car travel . . . lol I wouldn’t even know what a gold card looks like being a single mom but I have checked rental car sites and I should be fine there.

In terms of a document notarized for travel I have that taken care of as soon as I figure out the flights we will be on so that is all fine.

Thank you all for thinking of me and giving me ideas, it is appreciated. I can’t wait to come on this board and tell you our flights are booked!

Take care.

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It’s possible there’ll be some better fares by mid-May, but I’d be hesitant to count on that, given it’s summer season.

If going to London last works well for your trip, by all means do so. But I think this advice is more oriented to people who aren’t used to large cities – which I’m sure you are, given your LAX location! I had no problem going to London as my first city in Europe, nor do most people.

If you’re interested in Priceline, check out www.betterbidding.co… and thoroughly research all pitfalls in advance.

Knic
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Traveler, I agree that flights may not get better and I am ready to pay $800.00 each if that is what it takes. It’s sad but as you know, I will deal with that as I am working around school holidays. I also agree in terms of staying in London first. I figure that to chill a few days there would be a good thing. What I have read about is the jet lag (something I have no experience with short of perhaps a five hour time difference) and such makes it difficult to appreciate everything and as we are going to end up there for the flight home we can check out everything then. My first thought was to stay in London a few days to give myself time to adjust and aclimate to the area and also to give my son time to sleep, lol what can I say he is 16! Maybe I will just give us a couple days coming and going as that might work out best for us. Hmmm in a way that seems like the best thought, will think about that a bit. I have talked myself out of the "gotta do EVERYTHING" thought process as I really want to enjoy our time there and our time together. Europe will be there for our next journey, it will wait for us, you know? Thanks.

delightmartin
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Just saw this post, hope it’s not too late but Knic, my husband and I are doing the same thing. We’re leaving OC on the April 7th and headed to the eastcoast for a bit. We just pricelined our ticket for May 2nd for $550rt JFK to London. Check that out. Priceline is great.

Have a great trip!!!

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One quick warning about priceline.com is the following. When you enter a price you are willing to pay, even if the ticket is cheaper then what you enter, they will sell you the ticket for what price you entered.

Also you realize that you will not get frequent flier miles. If you fly an airline a lot, those can be thought of as being off the cost (about $0.01/mile).

delightmartin, I’m curious how long you are staying in Europe. Is the $550 rt per ticket or for both of them? I’m asking because I’ve seen $440 rt fares from New York JFK to London recently for May…

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For Knic, look at the Air New Zealand fare for LAX-LON mentioned on another thread. I suggest you buy that if you possibly can.

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Traveler, I was just going to post that . You beat me to it. Oh well, here’s a link to the thread.

http://www.eurotrip.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=103948

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Ricecloudnine, the $550 rt I found was for May 2 to June 16. I just entered the dates, didn’t enter a price. Where did you get the $440 rt rate for May. Please let me know, we haven’t brought our ticket and still shopping.

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I was using the ITA software.
http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch/
Just sign on as a guest.

You can’t purchase tickets from them, but I find it the easiest way to find the chepest fares. There I go to another website and use the dates/times for the cheapest fares.

I did a search and the May 2 to June 16 dates gives you $470 round trip on British Airways from JFK to London. If you want the $440 round trip you need to return on June 15th, as the cheaper tickets are for Mon, Tue, or Wed flights.

I then tried expedia.com with the latter dates with and the BA fare came up, just $5 more.

Knic
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Dang, dang, dang! I tried three or four different dates to the New Zealand link in the other post and I still get $785 to $850!!!! I have at least two more weeks until I can book but I figured I could swing it someway but I couldn’t figure out the best way to get a cheaper rate! Thanks everyone, I will keep trying!

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http://www.jetradar.com is the only place I go to search flights now, after consistently finding them to find the best deals. They don’t ‘promote’ any particular airline, but are totally transparent, plus they include the extra fees and taxes that you know you have to pay but many other ‘comparison’ sites leave off. This is helpful, as you can make a fair assessment of which is the best price.

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I think if you want cheap then check to the flexible date.you get cheaper to the flexible as compare to the fix date.in summer season and peak seasons prices are high.