NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Almost all major airlines increased ticket prices by $4, $6 and $10 across the bulk of their domestic route systems in late October, just in time for the holiday booking season.

However, this doesn’t mean the window of opportunity for holiday travel deals has closed entirely.

“In years past, fares have gone down a few weeks before the holidays,” says George Hobica, President of Airfarewatchdog, an airfare alert site that covers all carriers. He says airlines have eliminated routes and reduced seat capacity during the past few months, so there’s no guarantee that they will do the same in 2011, but he says “if you’re willing to take what’s left, you can still get a deal.”

That means those who are willing to sit in a middle seat or leave at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning may be able to get a reasonably priced flight, depending also on the destination.

Hobica says the same goes for hotel prices.

“Too many people think travel prices are static,” he says. He advises consumers to be both flexible and persistent in their quest for deals. For instance, don’t limit yourself to booking at one specific airline since that typically makes you beholden to the prices they offer on their websites. Instead, he suggests aggressively monitoring travel search engines to get competitive rates on both airfare and hotel rooms.

Fussy travelers on a strict schedule, conversely, should probably go ahead and book now, since fares on prime flights are only going to get higher as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches. 

What else can you do to spare spending some travel dollars? Find out in MainStreet’s roundup of nine ways to save on winter travel.

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