Yes, it is possible that it’s too soon to buy airline tickets. Here’s why, and what to do if you find yourself in the situation of wanting to buy airfare that’s not on offer yet.
Airline reservation and ticketing limitations
Airline seat inventory is released to computer reservation systems around 330 days (roughly 11 months) prior to the date of departure.
This window is an airline standard — a hard and fast rule across the board. If you find an agent or website telling you they can issue a ticket for dates beyond 11 months out, don’t buy it, because they can’t and whatever it is they’re selling you isn’t a confirmed seat for a confirmed price on an actual airplane.
If your intended flight dates are beyond the 11-month window, it’s a pain, but you’re going to have to wait to have a ticket issued.
What can you do in the meantime?
The 11-month rule doesn’t mean you can’t plan or get price estimates on an RTW trip. At AirTreks, you can get a ballpark idea of the cost of your flights for any date in the future. Just go to AirTreks’ planning tool, TripPlanner, put in your destinations (and dates, if desired) and get a reasonably accurate price range for the tickets for the trip you had in mind.
What if your departure date is close, but some of your subsequent flights are more than 11 months away?
If your departure date is within 11 months but your return date is further out or even unknown, you can buy your tickets in stages, using what we call a partial purchase wherein you purchase the tickets for the first part of your trip, the portion you’re confident in completing within one year, then buy the remainder of your tickets while you’re on the road.
Many of our clients do want to travel for longer than 11 months. We help them pick up the remainder of their tickets they couldn’t buy ahead of time on the road.
Timing your ticket purchase for the best price
It’s always best to plan ahead and buy your airline tickets as soon as you can. AirTreks normally recommends you purchase your tickets anywhere from 4 to 6 months prior to your departure on a long-term trip. Shorter multi-stop flights can be booked even further in advance.