NORWALK, Conn., Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Travelers who can't afford to fly for both Thanksgiving and the December holidays will be better off heading home for Turkey Day, according to the latest batch of airfare data from priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN). Based on the last two weeks of round-trip domestic ticket sales, the national average Thanksgiving airfare is $420, or right where it was last year at this time. Meanwhile, the national average airfare for the December holidays is up 3%, to $444.
If you heeded priceline.com's advice back in October and booked early, pat yourself on the back. In early October, the national average Thanksgiving fare was just $393, while the average December holiday airfare was $430.
"Holiday airfare trends are playing out pretty much as expected," said priceline.com's Travel Ekspert Brian Ek. "Flight reductions have reduced the number of available seats and that, coupled with holiday travel demand, is enabling fares to creep upward. The good news is that Thanksgiving airfares are back to running about flat with last year so, if you can only travel for one end-of-year holiday, that's probably the one to pick."
Every year, priceline.com publishes a continuously updating Best Days To Fly calendar showing the days when travelers are most likely to find affordable fares. The calendar can be found at http://www.priceline.com/promo/deals/winter_holidays/deals.html.According to Priceline, here are the most affordable travel days (currently) for the upcoming holidays:
- The most affordable days to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday are November 19, 20, 23 and 27.
- The most affordable days to fly over the Christmas holidays are December 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 29, 31 and January 1 & 2.
- 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. With Name Your Own Price® tickets, travelers must agree to begin their trips anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and there may be up to one connection each way. Visit http://www.priceline.com/flights/ and click on the link to use the service.
- 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. Note: baggage fees are charged separately for your outbound and return flights.