Booking your flights too far in advance could cost you dearly

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Already planning next year’s summer getaway? You may want to wait a while before purchasing your flights. Booking too far in advance could cost you dearly, and not just financially. In a recent American Airlines’ Tell me why podcast, Vice President Brian Znotins gave insight into how airline scheduling and planning happens. The news was not good for travelers who would like to book their flights whenever possible.

While it might seem like a good idea to lock in a fare and date so you can plan the rest of your trip, the risks might not be worth it. Below, Travel Off Path explores how and why airlines set their schedules the way they do and what that means for travellers.

Airplane cabin interior with seated passenger

How airlines plan their flights, according to the vice president of American Airlines

According to Znotins, American Airlines currently publishes its frozen schedule 100 days in advance. Before Covid-19 changed the world, the carrier released its schedule 90 days in advance. In most cases, travelers should feel safe taking advantage of this 100-day window. Once the official schedule is released, the carrier is unlikely to make any significant changes to the proposed flights. Any major changes usually occur before this 100 day window is locked.

Young man looking at airline timetable

What about beyond 100 days?

This is where things start to take more risks for travelers. According to Znotins, American Airlines will sell flights up to 330 days in advance. It is much further away than their frozen timeline and is known as a placeholder calendar. Before the pandemic, the placeholder schedule was a relatively accurate predictor of what the frozen schedule would look like once those tickets approached the 100-day window.

People checking in for a flight with canceled flights on board in the background

Unfortunately, now that the world is still in pandemic recovery mode, the placeholder calendar is becoming less reliable. Znotins points out that when titles such as US Airlines will cut more than 30,000 flights in November going out, it is considered a significant change in airline schedules. According to the vice president, however, this is how the airline industry has operated since the start of the pandemic.

Canceled flights

Why not modify the schedule of the reserved space?

According to Znotis, American Airlines is still using its 2019 schedule as a placeholder. It follows that many other airlines are probably doing the same thing. Since the world works very differently now, using the 2019 calendar as a placeholder has proven to be less reliable than expected.

“We would really like to have a better reserved space, but, unfortunately, to have a better reserved space, you have to know the schedule that you are actually going to fly, and we don’t know that until we establish the schedule. real.. You have to go through the process to find out what thefts exist,” Znotis said in the interview.


So why sell fictitious flights that don’t arrive at the time set in stone? Znotis points out that in cases where the carrier knows for sure that a flight will not exist on its reserved space schedule, it will remove it as an option. However, in cases where they are unsure, they will still sell the flight. The uncomfortable reality we all had to deal with this summer is that the aviation industry never knows if it will get enough support. Znotis points out that the carrier does not know how many aircraft, pilots, mechanics and ground staff will be available to support the schedule until much closer to the 100-day window.

Airport staff guiding a plane through

What does this mean for travellers?

For travelers, this means that, where possible, it will be best to only book flights up to 100 days in advance. This will greatly reduce the risk of flight disruption, especially with American Airlines. Not only will this help reduce the risk of a flight being canceled or changed, but it will also save travelers money.

Travel Off Path recently reported the best times to book flights for the biggest cost savings. Almost all of the best deals happen when booking less than 100 days in advance. The only exception is for travel within Europe when fares are cheapest 129 days before departure. For the best times to book holiday flights and flights to other regions, read more HERE.

Traveler looking at dashboard with Santa's vacation hat on

Travelers have had to deal with a lot this summer. However, booking flights at the right time, minimizing your risk of lost baggage and knowing your passenger rights will help ensure that you get the best deal and that everything goes smoothly.

This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit:

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