How to Beat Exorbitant Holiday Airfares

How to Beat Exorbitant Holiday Airfares
  • Opening Intro -

    Have you checked out airfare rates lately?

    If not, you’re in for a rude bit of sticker shock.


Travel by air may remain just as popular as ever, but if you’re planning to fly, expect to see double-digit fare increases from over one year ago. And those increases don’t include airline fees for baggage, food and changing your reservation, costs that are being passed on to consumers.

Frequent fliers know that there is little that can be done about escalating fares on the surface. However, if you dig deep and are very flexible, you can roll back some of those increases even at busy times of the year such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Use Reward Miles — Black out dates make it impossible to use reward miles around certain busy times of the year which means your chance of flying free probably won’t happen. However, you may be holding a credit card that makes black out dates a thing of the past. The “Miles by Discover Card” and the “Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card” are two of a handful of cards that state that you can fly free at any time. Contact your affinity credit card provider to determine what restrictions, if any, apply to you.

Fly Off Peak — Airlines will hammer you if there are certain days that you want to fly and everyone else wants to fly on those dates too. In 2011, the three busiest travel dates around Thanksgiving are November 18, 29 and 30. Expect to find no discounts on those dates as planes will be full and airlines will charging full fares. If you can fly on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll find that fares are the lowest for that week as most people prefer to be at their destinations before the holiday. Wait about one week to return and your Thursday to Wednesday trip could be the most affordable one you’ve flown all year.

Use Another Airport — If you live between two metropolitan areas or are in proximity to two or more airports, the traffic at each airport may have an impact on what fares are charged. For example, if you live in Florence, South Carolina, and normally travel to Charlotte for your flights, you may find that fares at CLT are higher than fares charged at Myrtle Beach, S.C. (MYR). Explore other carriers too, such as Spirit Airlines which flies out of MYR, but not out of CLT, and offers some of the largest discounts in the industry.

Know Your Fees — You may not be able to save much on airfare, but you can get a handle on fees which can add significant amounts to even a discount carrier fees. This means restricting your luggage to carry on only, packing a meal and eating it before going through security and having someone drop you off at the airport to avoid parking fees.

Still can’t find discounts? If you’re traveling regionally, consider two other options: taking a bus or traveling by train. Bus fare may be the cheapest way to get there, costing you as it would had you driven, but with no wear and tear on your car or on your body.

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Categories: Travel Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".