If you don’t act soon, you’ll be paying premium prices on holiday airfares.
The average airline ticket cost $64 more than this time last year.
The best deals on airfares are right now—mid-October until the second week of November.
After that, the fares will increase by about $5 every single day!
If you’re planning to wait and snag last minute deals, you should know that there probably won’t be many this year.
How is that possible, you may wonder, given the state of the economy?
Remarkably, the demand for air travel remains steady and business travel is up over this time last year.
This means the airlines don’t have to slash prices.
What they are reducing is the number of flights. Less flights mean more sold out flights.
AirTran, American, Delta, and United have cut the most flights.
So what are the best ways to save on airfares, besides buying a ticket sooner rather than later?
Here are five things you can do to make sure to get the lowest fare:
1.Try to fly on less popular travel dates to avoid peak crowds and highest fares.
The worst days will be:
Tuesday before Thanksgiving
Sunday after Thanksgiving
December 22, 23, or 26
The best days are:
Wednesday before Thanksgiving
Early on Thanksgiving Day
Early on Christmas Day
January 1 (I once had a row of six seats to myself for the entire flight home plus great service from the flight attendants)
Note: Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Saturday this year!
It is likely that mid-week travel will be the most crowded.
2. The best time to buy airline tickets is after midnight during the week when fares
are uploaded. There are only a handful of cheap seats. When those get sold out,
the price goes up to the next tier and so on. Another good time to buy tickets
is on Tuesday afternoon when sales are posted.
3. Flights with connections cost less than direct or non-stop flights. The big concern
with connecting flights is delays and missed connections. This depends on which
airports and airlines you use. For example, Chicago’s O-Hare airport is
notoriously bad for delayed flights. American has one of the worst records with
an on-time departure of only 54 percent. Be careful about tight connections.
Not allowing enough time between connecting flights can easily caused a missed
connection these days. Rebooking on the next flight may not be an option if a plane
is full or it is the last flight of the day. www.flightstats.com
4. Check alternate airports to compare fares. Flying out of a different airport usually
results in a different fare that may be much less than your hometown or main
5. Comparison shop. Compare the fares offered by the airlines by visiting their websites (for
a complete listing, www.listofairlines.org), check one or two popular travel sites (they are generally comparable), auction
sites (www.priceline.com is one of my favorites), and reputable consolidators.
This information comes fromTerrance Zepke’s The Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel: Save Up to 90% on Lodging, Flights, Tours, Cruises, and More! (Second Edition, 2011. ISBN 978-0615-514727; $14.95 pb, $6.95 eBook).
Holiday Travel Tips:
Do not wrap any gifts you are taking in your carry-on bag.
Make sure you’re allowed to take the items on board. For example, gift baskets with food, snowglobes, and wine or liquor
cannot be carried on the plane.
Be sure to check an airline’s policies on first and second bag charges and early boarding options. Due to the holidays, you may
need a second bag and may find early boarding worth the price. www.tsa.gov