The 2010 holiday airfare forecasts are out, and the news is not great, but a little planning could make it bearable. Families can expect to pay as much, or more this year for airfare as last year. Most of the expense will likely be from added “peak holiday travel surcharges” and fees for all the little extras that make flying bearable with kids. As a family traveler, you know baggage, food and other misc. fees can add up when you travel with your kids. As during any holiday or peak travel season, it pays to do some homework before you book.
If you are shopping for Thanksgiving or Christmas airfare for your family – don’t wait to book. Here are HipTravelMama’s top 5 tips for families to help you save money on holiday airfares, aggregated from the airfare experts and customized for your family travel needs:
Hip Tip #1: Take the kids out of school and fly the Saturday before Thanksgiving: Most airfare experts recommend ‘staying flexible’ when you travel to avoid peak fares. But families have the least amount of flexibility than most other travelers, due to school schedules and extracurricular commitments. To save money on airfare for your family, consider flying the Saturday before Thanksgiving and return the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. If you can’t take the kids out of school, flying on Thanksgiving can be the cheapest day to travel, so have grandma keep the turkey warm, plan your dinner later that day, or extend your holiday celebration into the weekend.
Hip Tip #2: Watch early October for holiday price drops on Christmas itineraries: According to Bing Travel’s 2010 Holiday Travel Forecast, since 2006, most Christmas itineraries saw price drops in the first two weeks of October. You can also save money on Christmas airfare by shifting your outbound travel date. Avoiding the popular Wednesday or Thursday before Christmas can save approximately $15 to $70 per ticket according to Bing Travel. Note of caution here: Most experts agree that you should not wait to book this season, so if you find a good deal on flights, book it.
Hip Tip #3: Know the cheapest days and times to fly: According to Farecompare’s Rick Seaney, the cheapest days to fly are typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Cheapest times of the day to fly are early in the day, in the evening ,or an overnight “redeye” flight.
Hip Tip #4: Don’t assume that discount airlines will have the cheapest fares: The big surprise this year is that discount airlines such as JetBlue, and Virgin America have jacked up prices on the most popular itineraries and may not offer the lowest fares. Airlines are expecting bookings to be strong, so they are keeping fares high hoping you will pay up. According to the Wall Street Journal, who looked at more than 20 markets for Nov. 24-Nov. 28 Thanksgiving trips and Dec. 23-Dec. 30 “Christmas trips, in all but a few cases, discount airlines had higher prices than competitors, with some at eye-popping levels.” Read full article here.
Hip Tip #5: Pack light and ship gifts: You shopped and found good prices on airfare for your family. Then you get to the airport and load your family’s luggage onto the scale and end up paying an additional $50-100 for your overweight baggage in addition to standard baggage fees. Know before you go. A bag is generally considered overweight when it weighs more than 50 lbs, but this varies from airline to airline. Farecompare has a great chart of domestic airline baggage fees so you can plan ahead and save some extra cash.
What are some of your little tricks for saving money on holiday airfares? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!