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2010 Ranks Second Most Expensive for Thanksgiving, Christmas Flights

November 2, 2010 By: Melanie Gretchen

Waldorf Astoria Park City Hotel, UtahWith 2010 already on record as the second most expensive year for Thanksgiving and Christmas airfare, the hunt for the holidays is on. Travel company Priceline shed some light on what to look for when booking flights.

Priceline's figures set the national average airfare for Thanksgiving at $383, only surpassed once in the past eight years by $387 in 2007 (Let's not even dwell on 2004's average of $313). Christmas this year averages at $444, down from 2008 at $452 (2003 saw $361).

How you can make it better is by narrowing in on your travel plans. Choose from among the less popular days for Thanksgiving including November 22, 23, 25 (Thanksgiving Day) and 30. For the Christmas holiday, consider December 20, 21, 24 (Christmas Eve), 28, 29, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Priceline Senior Travel Analyst Brian Ek said, "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."

Opt for premium times. Traveling in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) or after 8 p.m. will decrease the price of your ticket as well as your wait. Alternately, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., though slightly more expensive beats the business rush hours between 8 and 10 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.

Also, consider mailing presents to avoid extra baggage and increasingly common fees. Consult the airline's site for baggage requirements to prepare for fees of up to $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Good to know: fees for your outbound and return flights are handled separately.


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