If you want to attend a wedding – or plan one yourself – getting there is one of the most daunting tasks. With travel costs soaring in recent months, there is a lot of uncertainty. But when is the best time to book destination honeymoon flights to find the lowest price?
According to experts, the best time to book flights for a destination wedding is between one to eight months in advance. That’s a long time frame, but it depends on a number of factors. For example, whether you are traveling to a domestic or international destination and what time of year the wedding will take place. Plus, we’ve got some tips to make sure you never pay too much for a destination wedding flight again.
If you’re attending – or organizing – a wedding in the US, you generally have a little more leeway in finding cheap flights. According to Kyle Potter, editor-in-chief of Thrifty Traveler’s travel and flight deals website, the ideal window for booking domestic flights starts at least a month in advance.
Scott’s Cheap Flights senior product operations specialist Willis Orlando suggests booking domestic flights for a destination wedding between one and three months in advance.
In general, you don’t want to leave your flight booking until the last minute – hence the advice to start searching at least a month in advance. But the airfare varies based on a number of factors, so it’s always worth checking the cost of your flight several weeks in advance and keeping an eye on the cost to make sure you’re not overpaying.
When it comes to an international destination wedding, experts advise that you give yourself a little more time to find flights. According to Potter, start looking for those flights at least two to three months before the wedding date. Meanwhile, Orlando suggests that guests or hosts start looking even further ahead after about three to eight months.
However, if the wedding is in the summer or on a holiday weekend, you should consider other advice. Orlando recommends adding an extra month to the above timelines if the wedding is during peak season or a holiday weekend. Potter says adding extra time to this window is critical when booking travel in the summer, when “prices are rising rather than falling.”
Knowing when to start booking your flights is one thing you need to master. But there are plenty of other tips to help you strike a deal on your destination wedding flights without breaking the bank.
Set a maximum budget, start monitoring and set alerts
Before you start looking for flights, Orlando recommends setting a budget for yourself. What is the maximum you can spend on a plane ticket for this destination wedding?
Once you have some in mind, start looking for flights and keep an eye on the prices. Potter recommends setting up price alerts for Google Flights, which send you email alerts when prices change. If you see a good price drop, he advises to book immediately.
So you’ve finally found a flight at a price that fits your budget. When it comes to actually booking the ticket, it may be worth buying up to a higher fare class that allows changes at a later date.
This means that if you see an affordable — and flexible — rate outside the suggested purchase timelines, buy it. You can always change it later if the price drops. “It doesn’t hurt to stick with the first ‘acceptable’ rate, then keep checking prices and make a change if the price continues to fall,” Orlando says.
It must be said that you have to be extra careful with basic economy rates or low cost carriers. “Most economy fares for the main cabin can be changed for free or canceled for a voucher,” Potter says. “With most airlines, that is no longer an option with the cheapest basic economy fares.”
When it comes to traveling on holiday weekends and peak dates, guests should think about taking an extra day off to minimize flight costs. “Spending an extra day on either end of the weekend can save you hundreds of dollars,” Orlando says.
Or take more than a day for your own vacation. Brides and grooms should also consider honeymooning here. “Going a few days earlier or later — or even extending your trip after the wedding — can be great savings,” Potter says. “There may not be a cheap day to book, but there are cheap(er) days to fly. Getting on a plane on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday almost always saves you money.”
Plus, building in a few extra days before your trip on less busy days often brings additional benefits, such as fewer airport crowds, empty seats on your flight, and an airport lounge all to yourself.
Orlando strongly recommends using travel rewards to book wedding flights to the destination, especially if the wedding is on short notice, on peak dates, or in a hard-to-reach destination.
“Miles are most valuable when cash prices are high,” he says. “If you’re limited to your dates and destination, it often makes sense to book with miles, where prices are much more stable than cash prices and where rates are almost always subject to change and often fully refunded.”
When it comes to building your travel rewards accounts, the right travel credit cards are a great place to start. This allows you to earn points and miles that can be transferred to a number of partners. For example, if you accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, or Capital One miles, you can transfer your points to dozens of airline and hotel partners, putting you well on your way to nearly free travel.
While it may be tempting to book flights for your entire family or group of friends, don’t. “Airlines sell their tickets in fare classes with a specific price…and have a fixed number of fares available at that price,” Potter says. In other words, there may not be eight tickets available at the lowest price, but there could be two or three.
“If you’re traveling with six people and you have two tickets left to Paris for a $500 round trip and six left for a $1,000 round trip, they’ll charge you $1,000 for all six tickets,” Orlando explains. . “If you play around with the number of passengers, you’ll often find that sweet spot where you can book those last two tickets for a $500 round trip ticket before paying the higher price for the others.”
For those with large immediate families, Potter recommends looking for your flights earlier than single or double travelers. “It can be helpful for a large family to book even further in advance to ensure there is still plenty of inventory at the lowest-priced rates available,” he says.
Save yourself the headache and book directly with the airline, even if it is a bit more expensive. “While you may save a few bucks by booking through a third-party website, you may regret it if plans change or you have to change your flight,” Potter says. That’s because the third-party online travel agents often can’t solve problems themselves if something goes wrong, while the airline can quickly come up with alternative options within its own system.
The bride and groom should send the wedding invitations to the destination or save the date cards well in advance to ensure their guests have time to find and book affordable trips.
“We recommend sending save the dates a year to 10 months before the wedding date for destination weddings taking place in Mexico and following an official invitation with the RSVP deadline of three months prior to the event date,” said Anastasia, co-founder founder of Mango Wedding & Events, a company that plans destination weddings in Mexico.
This way, guests have time to prepare their budget, track flights and get the best fares. And brides and grooms, if you’ve managed to get your hands on your own cheap airfare, do your guests a favor and email them the details so they can book quickly to get the same or a similar price.
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