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International Air Timing

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What is the current wisdom on international Cruise Air pricing? Is the best pricing as soon as the seats become available, or closer to the cruise?

RB

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There is NO best time! You just have to do the research, which you can start before the actual booking window opens, by looking at prices on flights before you go.  You will get ideas on price ranges and behaviors. Try to do apples to apples...don't compare winter prices to summer prices.

 

I watched prices for SFO-MUC for about 5 months last year on United. They jumped around, then trended up as time passed. I waited too long...I paid about 10% more than the cheapest I saw because of waiting.

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1 hour ago, rbslos18 said:

What is the current wisdom on international Cruise Air pricing? Is the best pricing as soon as the seats become available, or closer to the cruise?

RB

My rule is this.  If I find it for less than $1000 round trip, I will jump on it.  If over $1000.00 I will shop around and try every possible way to get it below $1000.00.  I should note, I have had flights below $900 round trip.  You also need to know the prices from where you are flying.  I'm basing mine on Florida.  I have a round trip, open jaw trip to Asia for under $1000.00 per person, and although I upgrade to premium seats, I base everything on Economy, and decide after to upgrade. 

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Depends on airline and route.  Some keep going up as seats sell (thinking of Air Asia here) while others can go up and down several times a week.  Unless it is busy season due to vacations and flying a "legacy" airline, I'd wait (then again, i haven't used cash to pay for TATL flights in over 10 years).

 

If you're flying something like Air Asia X, as soon as possible.

 

I just bought KUL-HNL tickets - for the 2nd time in over a year - for their business class product (BC hard product seat and spacing, but LCC soft product).

 

Seems that prices are X, 2.1X and 3.1X (X being the lowest fare) when I'm travelling.  First 6 seats or so get sold at X, then it jumps to 2.1X and 3.1X.  And doesn't seem to go down.  On some days around my travel date (due to "golden week" in Japan), back-of-the-bus squishy seats are selling for more than $X I paid.

 

Also look around for alternate airports.  I need to get down to PPT to get on a cruise.  All airports in my region were expensive but if I looked at 2 airports, fares were a lot less due to various factors.  Even found/boulght a super-cheap (relatively) fare that is fully refundable until the airline fixed that.

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I always book airfares as soon as they are available - normally the best rate and I do get tickets with my preferred airline, best routes and the dates I want. 

Somtime cheaper tickets does mean more stops and longer travel. 

When I have booked my cruise I do not want to save few $$ on airfares - I want to ensure the best possible holiday.

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2 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

There is NO best time! You just have to do the research, which you can start before the actual booking window opens, by looking at prices on flights before you go.  You will get ideas on price ranges and behaviors. Try to do apples to apples...don't compare winter prices to summer prices.

 

I watched prices for SFO-MUC for about 5 months last year on United. They jumped around, then trended up as time passed. I waited too long...I paid about 10% more than the cheapest I saw because of waiting.

This is what I do.  When my flights become available, if the price is one that is reasonable to me, I book it.  Then, I quit checking and live with my decision.  

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2 hours ago, Havingfun2010 said:

My rule is this.  If I find it for less than $1000 round trip, I will jump on it.  If over $1000.00 I will shop around and try every possible way to get it below $1000.00.  I should note, I have had flights below $900 round trip.  You also need to know the prices from where you are flying.  I'm basing mine on Florida.  I have a round trip, open jaw trip to Asia for under $1000.00 per person, and although I upgrade to premium seats, I base everything on Economy, and decide after to upgrade. 

 

But "international" is a very broad term. In some cases, $1000 for an international flight is insanely low...for others, insanely high. Since OP just uses the term "international", and has no location listed, we don't really know what their trip is. Toronto to San Juan isn't worth paying $1000 for...but Los Angeles to Sydney is.

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OP here---From US to Rome. We are looking at first class seats. We live in the midwest. The closest major airport is Chicago or Atlanta.

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22 minutes ago, rbslos18 said:

OP here---From US to Rome. We are looking at first class seats. We live in the midwest. The closest major airport is Chicago or Atlanta.

Unless you're willing to drive to either Chicago or Atlanta, the closest major airport doesn't really matter. You're probably going to want to fly out of whatever your local airport is, I would guess.

 

Do you really want to fly First Class? First Class is very expensive, and becoming less and less common as airlines get away from First Class and instead focus on a better Business Class. To give you an idea - on Expedia, for next August, Chicago to Rome is around $6000 to $90000 roundtrip; Business Class about $2500 to $5000 roundtrip.

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First of all, not a lot of airlines are offering true International First anymore...the number drops every day.  You are looking for whatever front of the plane cabin. Out of both Atlanta and ORD, Lufthansa may still be flying a true International First. You would connect through Frankfurt.

 

Second, International First fares don't move much. Business used to not move much either, but the SFO-MUC flight I mentioned above was a Business class seat, in a two class plane, no First.

 

If you are talking award seats, then booking as soon as, or very close to release time is your best bet. But again, that takes some study. We did SFO-SYD roundtrip in International First on United's "Saver Awards", when United still had First. After a little research, I figured out those seats come out about 10 days after the general release of seats. So I was waiting, and got them.

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21 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

First of all, not a lot of airlines are offering true International First anymore...the number drops every day.  You are looking for whatever front of the plane cabin. Out of both Atlanta and ORD, Lufthansa may still be flying a true International First. You would connect through Frankfurt.

 

Second, International First fares don't move much. Business used to not move much either, but the SFO-MUC flight I mentioned above was a Business class seat, in a two class plane, no First.

 

If you are talking award seats, then booking as soon as, or very close to release time is your best bet. But again, that takes some study. We did SFO-SYD roundtrip in International First on United's "Saver Awards", when United still had First. After a little research, I figured out those seats come out about 10 days after the general release of seats. So I was waiting, and got them.

 

And IF OP is planning to truly fly first class, and IF OP decides to take Lufthansa, they may have an option between both Frankfurt and Munich for connect. I would choose Frankfurt and build in a layover of a few hours to take advantage of the lovely First Class Terminal at FRA. It's a little more work to get there than the standard First lounge, but worth it in my opinion.

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6 hours ago, hallasm said:

I always book airfares as soon as they are available - normally the best rate and I do get tickets with my preferred airline, best routes and the dates I want. 

If that works for you, fine, but when seats first become available (typically 11 - 12 months pre-flight) it's not unusual that the cheapest prices aren't available.  Almost a year out, the airlines sometimes can't get a good read on what their operating costs are going to look like - for example spikes in fuel prices - so they'll hedge against possible losses by setting prices high enough so that even if their costs do go up, they'll still make a profit on the seats.

 

Airlines use very, very complicated (and very secret) "revenue management" computer programs that weigh numerous factors before releasing seats into inventory at various price points (called "fare buckets.")  These programs are constantly updating themselves hour by hour, day by day, and trying to outguess them is like trying to "time" the stock market - don't bother.

 

By all means monitor prices and when you see something reasonable, book it and don't look back.  But remember that some early birds get cats instead of worms.

 

For the OP - You probably want business, and not first class.  Depending on when you're cruising, you should be aware that quite often the middle of the summer is the cheapest time to fly across the Atlantic in business class (and the most expensive in economy) because actual business travel slacks off then.  The "cheap" fares usually show up around April, so be patient.  The flights aren't going to sell out, trust me.

 

Also I'd recommend you check business class fares leaving from Toronto, Canada.  The supply and demand picture for business class seats ex-Canada are very different than from the US, and even if you have to fly up to Toronto on a different ticket, sometimes the savings can be in the thousands of dollars compared to flying the same dates from US airports.  

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One thing to note is that hallasm is posting from Denmark, and may be dealing with Euro LCC carriers - who tend to eschew the traditional revenue management approach and just dump low fares at the start and let the price rise with time.

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5 hours ago, Zach1213 said:

Unless you're willing to drive to either Chicago or Atlanta, the closest major airport doesn't really matter. You're probably going to want to fly out of whatever your local airport is, I would guess.

 

Do you really want to fly First Class? First Class is very expensive, and becoming less and less common as airlines get away from First Class and instead focus on a better Business Class. To give you an idea - on Expedia, for next August, Chicago to Rome is around $6000 to $90000 roundtrip; Business Class about $2500 to $5000 roundtrip.

First Class seats from the cruise line are much less. For a transatlantic cruise we are looking at 1550.00.

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3 minutes ago, rbslos18 said:

First Class seats from the cruise line are much less. For a transatlantic cruise we are looking at 1550.00.

 

Sounds too low to be true but possible.  I'll believe that for BC.  What airline?  As stated, there are very few airlines with real first class.  If the cruise line is offering real FC on a middle eastern carrier (Emirates, Ethihad or Qatar), that'd be good.  Not so much if Saudia.

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1 minute ago, cruising cockroach said:

 

Sounds too low to be true but possible.  I'll believe that for BC.  What airline?  As stated, there are very few airlines with real first class.  If the cruise line is offering real FC on a middle eastern carrier (Emirates, Ethihad or Qatar), that'd be good.  Not so much if Saudia.

Princess... Overseas to FCO from SDF is 1220 one way.  It is a bargain. 

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Airline. Which airline?

 

If it's domestic first class seating (I don't think any U.S. airline runs domestic first class seats trans-Atlantic), it's good but no means luxurious.

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4 hours ago, cruising cockroach said:

Airline. Which airline?

 

If it's domestic first class seating (I don't think any U.S. airline runs domestic first class seats trans-Atlantic), it's good but no means luxurious.

 

When it sold as "Domestic First Class" in the US is called "Domestic Business Class" in the rest of the world.   Most of the European airlines and Air Canada offer Premium Economy that includes a seat and service similar to a "Domestic First Class" product.  The 3 US airlines are playing catch-up and have also started to do this but it is only on certain routes and certain aircraft.   

 

International Business Class is typically a seat that opens up to a bed, usually with wall dividers to provide some privacy.  Multi-course meal.  etc.  It is expensive.  

 

International First Class is an even more premium product that is only available on a very limited number of routes in the world and is slowly disparaging.  

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, rbslos18 said:
5 hours ago, cruising cockroach said:
5 hours ago, rbslos18 said:

 

First Class seats from the cruise line are much less. For a transatlantic cruise we are looking at 1550.00.

 

 

Sounds too low to be true but possible.  I'll believe that for BC.

 

 

Princess... Overseas to FCO from SDF is 1220 one way.  It is a bargain.

 

 

This is entirely plausible for business class - it's close to large contract rates for business class.

 

To me, it sounds close to implausible for first class.

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3 hours ago, Globaliser said:

 

 

This is entirely plausible for business class - it's close to large contract rates for business class.

 

To me, it sounds close to implausible for first class.

 

It is Delta One, which I believe is their business/first class hybrid product. The seats can turn into beds. It’s not luxurious but I find it more comfortable than economy or economy plus seats.

 

Booking via the airline one way Delta One is $8400+. Via Princess which I presume is a consolidator type fare was $1220. (SDF - FCO). 

 

Edited by rbslos18

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Delta One is Business Class. Delta even calls it Business Class. Lie flat seats are very common now in long haul International Business flights, almost all airlines have them. Lie Flat doesn't make it First Class.

 

$1200 or $1500 each way, per person, is a pretty good fare.

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19 minutes ago, rbslos18 said:

 

It is Delta One, which I believe is their business/first class hybrid product. The seats can turn into beds. It’s not luxurious but I find it more comfortable than economy or economy plus seats.

 

Booking via the airline one way Delta One is $8400+. Via Princess which I presume is a consolidator type fare was $1220. (SDF - FCO). 

 

 

Delta One is straight up business class.  It is not a "hybrid" between business and first.  Don't be confused by the fact that they call it Delta ONE....The "one" doesn't mean first class.  Nor does the $8400 price tag; Delta has gotten kind of notorious for sometimes pricing Delta One at super high prices, but if you watch for any length of time you'll likely see that price fluctuate a LOT. 

 

As a further point of clarification, Delta does not offer international first class on any route.  Business class, or Delta One, is their top offering.

Edited by waterbug123

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19 minutes ago, rbslos18 said:

It is Delta One, which I believe is their business/first class hybrid product.

 

It's just business class, branded.

 

As I said, the price you've been quoted is close to large contract rates, so all of this is consistent.

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2 hours ago, rbslos18 said:

 

It is Delta One, which I believe is their business/first class hybrid product. The seats can turn into beds. It’s not luxurious but I find it more comfortable than economy or economy plus seats.

 

Booking via the airline one way Delta One is $8400+. Via Princess which I presume is a consolidator type fare was $1220. (SDF - FCO). 

 

 

Delta One is fine. It's a decent hard product with an inconsistent (sometimes very good, sometimes very bad) soft product. But yeah, as mentioned, definitely not First Class. But way better than economy, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

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8 hours ago, em-sk said:

 

When it sold as "Domestic First Class" in the US is called "Domestic Business Class" in the rest of the world.  

 

Careful.  There is a world of difference between longhaul and shorthaul "business class".  On most Euro airlines, intra-Europe shorthaul "business" only gets you a standard coach seat with the middle seat blocked off.  No lie-flat seating, no extra legroom.

 

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