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Each airline has its own policy as to how far in advance you can book flights using either cash or rewards. Below, we’ll examine the different options you have when flying on the major American airlines. Typically, you can find the cheapest award flights right when schedules open up (for flights the furthest out) and within two weeks of departure. You’ll also often find deals for cash fares when schedules are released.
If you’re using cash to purchase your ticket, you can book flights up to 331 days in advance. When using miles, you can book up to 330 days in advance for flights on Alaska Airlines metal. If you’re looking to book an award ticket on one of Alaska Airlines’ partners, you can book up to 365 days in advance, pending the partner’s booking rules. Use the chart below to tell if you can book further out.
|Alaska Airlines Partners||Air France||American Airlines||British Airways||Cathay Pacific||Condor||Emirates||Fiji Airways||Hainan Airlines||Japan Airlines||Iceland Air||KLM||Korean Air||Penn Air||Qantas||Ravn|
|How Far In Advance You Can Book||365 Days||330 Days||353 Days||360 Days||349 Days||330 Days||330 Days||330 Days||330 Days||326 Days||11 Months||362 Days||331 Days||354 Days||331 Days|
In order to book up to 365 days out, you must call Alaska, as its website only shows flights up to 330 days out. If you’re looking to combine a partner award with a domestic segment on any airline including Alaska, you can book the partner award first and then call back at the 330-day mark to add on your domestic segment.
When booking on American Airlines, the rules are the same whether you’re spending dollars or miles. In each case, you can book up to 331 days in advance of the departure date, regardless of when partners open up their flight availability.
Delta Air Lines
When booking on Delta, the same rules apply as with American. You can book both SkyMiles award tickets and cash fares 331 days in advance.
There’s no standard on how far out Frontier’s schedule opens up. Currently you can book flights through August 10, 2018. That’s a mere 258 days out. The same window is in place for award tickets. Frontier charges a $15 fee for booking an award ticket within 21 to 179 days before departure, which effectively forces you to pay extra because its schedule isn’t published yet.
JetBlue, like Frontier, doesn’t offer a formal date for schedules to open up for sale. It typically extend its schedule every six weeks, and if you sign up for emails it will send you a notification every time it extends it. Alternatively, you can check this link, which tells you how far its schedule is open. You can typically book flights using money and TrueBlue miles anywhere from 6 to 8 months out.
On its website, Spirit Airlines gives you the option to select a date up to 330 days out, but when you try to perform the search, the site informs you that the schedule is only loaded for 6 to 8 months out. This applies to both Spirit Airlines Free Spirit mileage awards and cash bookings.
In line with all of the other Low Cost Carriers (LCCs), Southwest Airlines doesn’t publish a formal schedule. It does one thing that breaks it out from the competition: It has a dedicated link that not only tells you how far in advance the schedule is currently available but also tells you when the future schedule will be loaded and how far in advance it will be loaded.
United Airlines allows bookings the furthest out of any of the Big US 3. You can book flights using miles and dollars up to 337 days out.
From our research, it looks like flights on United Airlines metal become available for MileagePlus award tickets anywhere between 334- to 337-day mark (it’s rather inconsistent). You can book United partner awards as far as 337 days out.
If you’re looking to make plans more than a year out, you should book with one of the Big 3 US airlines as their schedules open up for sale between 11 and 12 months from today. If you want to go with a low-cost carrier, consider creating calendar reminders and check the links provided to figure out when their schedules will open up for sale. Typically, it’s a good idea to book flights with miles as far in advance as possible in order to get the lowest-level award space. If you’re using cash, it is possible to get a better deal if you wait to book, be sure to use tools like Google Flights‘ price tracker.
Featured image by Aotaro via Flickr.
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