Priceline.com offers tips to bring high holiday airfares back down to earth
The economy may still be challenged, but you wouldn't know it from looking at airfares for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.
According to priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN), the current national average airfare for Thanksgiving travel is $383. Only once in the last eight years has the average Thanksgiving airfare been higher ($385 in 2007). Nostalgia fans may want to look back on 2004, when the average airfare was a bargain $313.
For Christmas, the 2010 average airfare is $444, compared to $452 in 2008 (and $361 in 2003). National average airfares for the 2010 holiday season were calculated based on fares booked in October through priceline.com's airline ticketing service.
What's a holiday traveler to do? "You can dramatically reduce your airfare by being choosy with your travel dates," said Priceline Senior Travel Analyst Brian Ek. "Pick days when fewer people are flying and the fares will be cheaper. For example, the average fare on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when everyone wants to fly, is $409. If you wait and fly on the following Monday, the fare drops to $341. Likewise in December, the average fare for a flight on the Saturday before Christmas is $523. If you fly on Christmas Eve day, the fare drops to $436. So you can actually save quite a bit by adjusting your travel days."
The best days to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday are November 22, 23, 25 (Thanksgiving Day) and 30.
The best days to fly over the Christmas holiday are December 20, 21, 24 (Christmas Eve), 28, 29, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Priceline's regularly updated Best Days To Fly calendar for the holidays can be viewed at http://travela.priceline.com/promo/deals/winter_holidays/flights.html.
Ek also had some additional tips to help find cheaper airfare and keep those travel costs down after the airfare is booked.
- Pick times of the day that are normally less busy. Time of day is important. Travelers will find the most affordable seats departing early in the morning (5-7 a.m.) or late evening (after 8 p.m.). Mid-day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) is a bit more expensive, but still reasonable. Most expensive are the peak business travel hours (8-10 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.).
- Try priceline.com's Name Your Own Price® airline tickets service. You can save even more on your airline tickets by using priceline.com's Name Your Own Price® ticketing service. Visit www.priceline.com/flights and click on the link to use the service. For help in deciding when to fly or how to bid for maximum savings, check out priceline.com's Inside Track www.priceline.com/insidetrack.
- Send those presents on ahead. You see presents; the airlines see extra baggage and maybe some extra fees. Not to mention how unhappy the security screeners will be to see those wrapped boxes. Save yourself the hassle by mailing or shipping presents in advance (after you've wrapped them, of course).
- Weigh and measure your baggage. Check your airline's maximum requirements for checked and carry-on bags to make sure you won't incur extra fees. Fees can be up to $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Note: baggage fees are charged separately for your outbound and return flights.
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