How to find cheaper holiday airfare this season


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Posted on November 15, 2010 at 6:12 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 15 at 8:42 PM

SEATTLE – ‘Tis the season for procrastinators to pay.

Travelers who plan on flying to visit relatives this Thanksgiving or Christmas, but have not booked a ticket, could be forking over a lot of money. Some experts say airline tickets are up 17 percent this holiday season. In some markets, the number is even higher.

“And as far as waiting to get a discount seat, this is not the year to do that,” said travel expert Steve Danishek.

Unlike the last two years when demand for flying was down, more people are flying this year, but airlines are not adding too many more flights.

“The airlines are no fools on this,” said Danishek. “They’re going to sell the remaining seats at the highest possible fares. They have no need to discount this year, so they’re not going to.”

The cheapest available flights may involve flying overnight or making multiple stops, said Danishek. Travelers could also try to fly on Thanksgiving or Christmas, when fares are much cheaper.

In addition, Danishek advises checking out different airports that are within driving distance, like Portland, Vancouver and Spokane. Sometimes the fares out of those airports are cheaper.

Finally, Danishek suggests looking into one-way flights from different airlines. Sometimes passengers can fly one way on one airline, then return on a different airline and save a bit of money.

Elizabeth Drollinger will be flying from Seattle to Pittsburgh this Christmas. The cheapest flights she could find cost $600; others reached as high as $1,200.

“They’re ridiculously expensive,” she said with a laugh. With a little help from her parents’ frequent flier miles, she was able to afford a ticket home for the holidays. “It’s tough this year."