With oil prices rising and flight capacities shrinking, airlines will be charging more for fares around the holidays. "For Thanksgiving, right now, fares are an average $24 higher than they were last year," said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. But, he added, there are ways to find deals and avoid undue expenses. Here's an edited chat with him:
What's the best way to save on airfare during the holidays?
Avoid flying on peak travel days. The biggest factor in determining the price of a ticket is how full the flight is. That Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are two of the busiest travel dates of the year, so almost every flight will be close to full, and fares will be much higher. If you travel Tuesday to Saturday over Thanksgiving, you can save an average of $70 per round-trip ticket, and an average of $113 if you go Monday to Friday.
How far in advance should you buy tickets?
Around holidays, we recommend at least eight weeks. That's when airlines get more aggressive with discounts to fill seats that are left, so you don't book too early.
How do you find airfare sales?
Wednesday is a good day to check, because a lot of airlines start sales on Tuesday that last for 24 to 48 hours, then other airlines match their prices. Fares change so often now that you could see a great fare, talk it over with your family that night, and the next day it's gone. That's why you
Any tips for families?
Pay attention to fees. It can be hard for a family to get seats together without paying $5 to $50 extra per seat, so keep that in mind. Also, check the fine print. Starting Nov. 6, Spirit Airlines will charge you $100 if you pay for your carry-on at the gate. Imagine a family of four having to pay $400. These fees make a really big difference.
-- Emily Brennan, New York Times