Nightly News   |  October 26, 2013

Experts: Time running out on cheap holiday airfares

With airlines consolidating and cutting back on flights many travelers will be paying premium prices during this year’s holiday travel season. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> if you are making holiday travel plans time for a reality check. airfares are way up over last year as airlines continue to reduce skemgs and fill to capacity in an effort to fill every seat.

>> reporter: on your holiday flight there will likely be two groups -- those happy they bought tickets early and everyone else.

>> this is probably going to be the highest priced holiday fathers we have se s -- fares we have see n in the last decade.

>> reporter: this year high demand for seats has prices soaring.

>> the best time to purchase holiday tickets was two weeks ago or earlier than that. if you're waiting for a last-minute deal you're in big trouble .

>> reporter: the average ticket cost for the u.s. and craribbean is already up more than 9% over last thanksgiving.

>> i hate to be a grinch but it is getting worse. book your christmas travel now.

>> reporter: prices for christmas week, up more than 7%. to an average $337. how much do you think you saved by making your holiday travel plans.

>> i would say a good hundred or $200.

>> reporter: this year the trend seems to be warm weather destinati destination. flights to tampa are up 15%. atlanta, almost 14%. south florida , 11%. how can you beat the high prices? experts say travel early in the morning and on less popular days.

>> you will get a cheaper fare if you fly early on thanksgiving day , early on christmas morning than you will on the wednesday before thanksgiving or the days leading up to christmas .

>> reporter: if you have to travel on peak days, expect to pay peak prices. just hope you're not sitting next to someone who can't wait to tell you about the great fare they booked a few months ago. to all the people out there still waiting for a deal is?

>> i'm sorry.

>> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.