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Affordable holiday travel still a possibility?

Affordable holiday travel still a possibility?



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Tis' the season for sky-high airfare rates.

Consumers wishing to avoid seasonal jumps in airfare rates would do best to travel within about a week of a major holiday, according to Priceline.com spokesman Brian Ek.

"Holiday airfares are among the highest we've seen in the last decade," Ek said. "The fares' rise may have been influenced by 2-5 percent flight reductions by several major airlines for the fourth quarter and holiday period."

The national average for Thanksgiving airfares was $407 as of Nov. 1, up 6 percent over 2010 figures. Christmas airfares are currently averaging $451, up 3 percent.

Despite the climb in prices, "travelers who comparison- shop different travel dates and times around the holidays still should be able to find cheaper fares," according to Ek.

Most affordable travel dates

    Thanksgiving

  • Nov. 19-22, 24-25, 29-30

    Christmas

  • Dec. 17-21, 24, 27-28, 31

Along with avoiding high-priced travel days, consumers should avoid traveling during peak business travel hours. Flights between 8 and 10 a.m. and between 5 and 7 p.m. are typically more expensive than flights between 5 and 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Mid-day flights tend to fall in the middle of the price range.

Consumers can continue to save even after purchasing airfare. Weighing and measuring baggage can protect against incurring extra fees that can run as high as $45 per bag, per flight.

In addition, holiday season poses particular problems to travelers trying to fly with large gifts. Shipping presents in advance can prevent extra-baggage fees that typically cost more than shipping.

Holiday travel may be synonymous with stress to many, but the right approach can make a noticeable difference, according to Ek.

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Stephanie Grimes

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