Buy now. If you’re planning a holiday trip, buy your airline tickets now.
It seems obvious but even more obvious is the truth that the airlines will skin us alive if we wait until November. More, there are even holiday fees ahead should we be so bold as to wish to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Rick Seaney, the farecompare.com wizard, shares the grim news about the holiday fees and surcharges. Good old Southwest, of course, is saying it won”t charge the holiday fees — but as usual it’s the exception. The giant legacy carriers — American, Delta, United/Continental and US Airways — are taking advantage of our holiday travel spirit to help themselves to even bigger bits of our wallets. These fees and surcharges can run from $10 to $50 each way, or hundreds of dollars if the family’s on the holiday road.
Already, the airlines have launched 17 fare increases attempts this year. Some never get off the ground but the intent is there, even as high fuel prices may have pushed some the increases (which never quite seem to go away once the oil prices come down.)
Airfares for Thanksgiving are already up 6 percent from last year, CNN notes. It checks in with Seaney who delivers these tips for holding one’s own against the airlines:
* “Opt for a connecting flight instead of a direct one to cut costs. A general rule of thumb is that the longer the layover, the cheaper the airfare.
* “Check alternative airports if you’re flying in or out of a busy metropolitan area. For example, if you’re flying from New York to Miami over Thanksgiving, consider arriving in Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach instead. A flight from LaGuardia to Miami can cost $494 per person, but landing in Fort Lauderdale — just 19 miles away — is $364, according to Travelocity. That’s more than a $500 savings for a family of four.
* “Tuesdays and Wednesdays (aside from the week of Thanksgiving) are generally the cheapest times to fly. During the week of Thanksgiving, however, flying on Thursday and returning Friday will cost substantially less than arriving on Wednesday and departing on Sunday.
* “The average cost of a flight departing on Thursday and returning Friday is $281, while the average cost a flight departing on Wednesday and returning Sunday is $441, according to Travelocity.”
By their accounting, starting in November — which is just around the corner, somehow — we can expect to add $5 to the price of each round-trip ticket for each day we procrastinate