I'm looking to take my best friend away for a long weekend to New York and just wondered if you had any idea when the best deals might be on offer? I didn't want to book if prices are about to plummet.
We've looked at a four-night trip going out on Thursday 13 October, returning overnight Monday 17 October. It's a lovely time to be in New York, still quite warm and with the city's cultural life at its most vibrant.
The first problem is, as you may already have identified, the cost. On top-quality airlines (notably BA and Virgin), a return flight is currently showing at £450-£500, higher than you would expect for the time of year. We also checked mid-November, which is very low season, and found fares almost as high.
Our advice: wait and see what happens to fares; we think those sorts of fare levels will still be available in, say, early September, and that the worst that could happen is that you might be obliged to take a connecting flight to keep the cost down (though that's a pain if you're on a short break). Given that "stuff happens" to change many a plan, you may deem it not worth committing cash nine months ahead in order to lock into a particular fare.
However, you also need to stay somewhere – and that's where you might decide to commit in advance. Looking at flight-plus-hotel packages through Opodo.co.uk, non-stop flights plus four nights in an excellent Times Square hotel such as the Westin or Hotel 41 comes in at below £750 per person. Given the scary rates charged in Manhattan (typically £200 per night), that looks more reasonable. But overall, we would still judge it best to hold on in the hope that a company such as Trailfinders may have a deal at around £699 per person for October travel.