September 25, 2008

Holiday Airfares Are Higher / You Can Go Home Again

Expect to spend more to fly home for the holidays this year, say the experts at Live Search Farecast. Fares for Thanksgiving are up 31 percent from last year, while Christmas and New Year's fares are up 30 percent, according to the Web site.

"The combination of high fuel prices, airline capacity and route cuts means holiday travelers may easily spend upwards of $100 more per ticket than last year," said Joel Grus, a spokesman for Farecast at "There are deals out there for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they're few and far between, and won't last long."

Farecast's data found that nationally, average costs for the most popular Thanksgiving itinerary, a Wednesday departure, Sunday return, is $490, up $66 from last year.

Travelers returning on Monday or Tuesday can save more than $90 per ticket.

The Web site found Christmas and New Year's fares averaging a little less than Thanksgiving fares, at $420.

Grus noted that fees for baggage, food and other extras that used to be free might send your travel costs higher.

Tips from Farecast for finding bargains:

- During 2006 and 2007, most Christmas itineraries saw price drops in the first two weeks of October. Farecast data suggest there are more price drops for the holidays than other times of the year; sign up for airline alerts to catch deals.

- Travelers flying to and from major airports might see price drops this fall, but those using smaller regional airports are more affected by airline capacity cuts and should not wait as prices are unlikely to go down.

- If you're staying in a hotel rather than with your family, you might be able to offset airfare increases with cheaper hotels. Farecast found some hotels in vacation destinations such as Hawaii and Florida are reducing rates so much that the combined cost of air and lodging was no more than last year's.

Farecast offers predictions on its Web site about the best time to purchase plane tickets based on past data about when prices go up or down. The Web site is also offering a beta version of a similar forecasting device for hotel rates.

Originally published by The Associated Press.

(c) 2008 Richmond Times - Dispatch. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.