Fewer Holiday Flights Mean Higher Ticket Prices

Travel experts recommend booking early, flying on off days to save money

By Kimberly King
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 7:17 PM CDT
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High jet fuel prices and a slumping economy means airlines are cutting the number of flights offered, so there are some keys to finding a flight that won't break your budget.

Kimberly King, NBC 5 News

High jet fuel prices and a slumping economy means airlines are cutting the number of flights offered, so there are some keys to finding a flight that won't break your budget.

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Airline experts say you should book your flights now if you're planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas trip.

Holiday ticket prices are up 5 percent this year. Airlines have scaled back flights because of high fuel prices and a slow economy.

"The total seat reduction from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the Monday after the holiday is more than 600,000," said Graeme Wallace, FareCompare.com chief technology officer. "The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, and there are now more than 35,000 less airplane seats available."

FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seaney said he has a theory on how to price out holiday plane tickets.

"Start adding $5 to your (round-trip) Thanksgiving ticket price each day you procrastinate," he said. "Once we hit the last week in October, add $5 to your (round-trip) Christmas ticket for each day you procrastinate."

One of the best ways to save on holiday tickets is to fly on "off days" during the holidays.

A round-trip ticket to Disneyland from Dallas/Fort Worth flying the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and returning Saturday runs $240, Seaney said. But flying the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returning Sunday runs $750.

Seaney also said travelers should consider investing in fees. The "cut-in-line" fees such as Southwest's Early Bird Check-In guarantee first dibs on overhead bins.

Travelers should also take advantage of technology such as flight status alerts so you know about delays and can avoid sitting at the airport for hours.

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