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Gas prices are down, which will reduce some of the financial hurt of driving over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holidays. But if one must fly, airline prices are still lingering around "expensive." Here are some tips compiled from similar lists on the web on how to save on holiday air travel.
1. Book now
“Industry watchers see fares rise between $5 and $8 per day during fall months. If you want to score a cheaper flight, don’t delay,” recommends Forbes. And according to CheapAir, “domestic airfares are cheapest seven weeks before departure,” says Kiplinger.
2. Consider layovers and connecting flights
“Prices for direct and non-stop flights increase at an even higher pace. This strategy (of seeking connecting flights to save money) has downfalls, however, with greater chances for delays. So make sure you download a weather app to monitor weather forecasts for each layover city,” suggests Forbes.
3. Know your local airline hub
Andrew Young, web editor at Travelzoo.com, told Women's Day that he “advises travelers to stick with the airline that has the closest headquarters to your home, as it will offer the most flights (and best deals) from your city. ‘Look to see which airline is strong in your area and what vacation packages they offer. They'll have some good options for you,’ (Young) says. ‘If you live in Atlanta, you want to travel Delta Vacations because that's the predominant carrier. United Vacations is out of Chicago and JetBlue Getaways fly out of New York.'"
4. Fly on less popular days
This is difficult advice to follow at Thanksgiving when everyone wants to fly in Wednesday, but “in general, plan to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday afternoon to bag a cheaper plane ticket. If you’re taking a weeklong domestic trip, depart on a Saturday and return on a Monday and you’ll score a 16 percent discount on your airfare, according to Kayak.com, the travel website. For weeklong international trips, departing on Tuesday and returning on Wednesday of the following week saves 21 percent on average.
“Early mornings and late nights are also less popular and more affordable times to fly, as are Thanksgiving (Day) and the eves and days of Christmas and New Year's. … Besides saving money, avoiding peak travel days will often mean you'll travel on less-crowded flights and go through shorter airport security lines,” states Kiplinger.
5. Use travel sites that recommend whether to buy or to wait
Travel websites like Kayak and Bing Travel track flight prices and use fare patterns to predict future prices. The sites will recommend to the user whether to “buy now” because they predict prices will rise or to “wait” because they expect there will be a drop in fares.
6. Watch flight prices, even after you book
“You have the right to change or cancel your flight plans for free within 24 hours of booking, thanks to rules introduced by the Department of Transportation in 2012. So if you find a better fare within that window, you can snatch the savings with no penalty. After 24 hours, if you find your booked fare has dropped, some airlines may be willing to refund you the difference. Use Yapta.com to track any price changes on nine major airlines and score any cash back you deserve,” recommends Kiplinger.
7. Pack light
This can be hard during the holidays since the traveler is most likely packing gifts as well as clothes, but airline luggage fees can cost a bundle. JetBlue allows one bag for free, Southwest allows two free bags, but most other airlines — unless you’re traveling abroad — charge a fee for any checked luggage. Consider re-wearing outfits during the trip to save space for presents.
8. Consider taking the train
“Even with a couple of kids, it can be a fun — and inexpensive — option. It takes more time, but for shorter distances, it can be comparable to flying times — considering the trip to the airport and waiting through long security lines,” suggests Forbes.