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5 Reasons It's Just About Too Late to Book Holiday Travel

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- You're already up to your elbows in pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin beers, pop-up costume shops and Candy Corn Oreos. Exactly how much longer do you think you'll have to buy those Thanksgiving or Christmas airline tickets for less than the price of your first car?

If you're even entertaining the idea of flying somewhere for Thanksgiving dinner, you're out of time to procrastinate. According to Rick Seaney, analyst and CEO for travel website FareCompare, roughly two months out is the best time to shop for both holiday airfares and desired flight times. As the days pass, it's going to get a lot tougher to find a low-cost fare or a non-redeye flight without arriving or departing on Thanksgiving Day itself.

We don't care how early it seems or if your summer vacation just ended, and neither do the airlines. Holiday travel surcharges, shrinking capacity and a narrow travel window all help jack up prices while reducing alternatives for slow-footed folks such as yourself. Want to track down some early holiday presents? Start with your plane ticket.

We took our annual spin with the folks from TripAdvisor's SmarterTravel (TRIP), Priceline (PCLN) and found that not only are you cutting it close this far out, but you may have waited just a bit too late. Here are five reasons why:

5. Everybody wants to fly when you do

We don't just mean during the holidays. We mean the exact days you do. Yeah, we bet flying in on Nov. 27 just before Thanksgiving and leaving on Dec. 1 right after your tryptophan coma's worn off sounds lovely. It's ideal for just about everyone else out there, too, which is why those are easily the most expensive days to fly.

4. It's not getting cheaper

FareCompare's Seaney notes that the airlines tend to release cheap seats for Thanksgiving around this time each year and that this year's tickets are a scant 1% more than last year's, which is lower than inflation. He adds, though, that flights for the Thanksgiving and winter holidays usually don't get a stray fare decrease between now and then. These days, there's a far better chance airlines will continue to cut capacity as needed and leave you with nothing. Seaney says fares jump $5 a day between early October and the holidays, which jacks up the price of your ticket $35 for every week you wait.
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