Expect to pay more to fly home for the holidays

/ Source: The Associated Press

Priceline.com says average holiday airfares for Thanksgiving and the December holiday season are getting more expensive, but airfares vary depending on exactly which day you fly.

As of early November, the average published price of a round-trip airline ticket home for Thanksgiving was $387, about 12 percent higher than a year ago, Priceline.com said. The average price of a round-trip ticket for the December holiday period was approximately $435, a 10 percent increase over a year ago.

Average fares are based on all published-price round-trip tickets booked the first week of November by Priceline.com customers for travel during the holiday periods.

"In October, when we first looked at holiday airfares, we found that they were averaging 10 percent lower than a year ago," said Priceline.com spokesman Brian Ek. "Now, with the reduced seat capacity at many major airlines and holiday ticket demand starting to peak, fares are moving up."

For the lowest fares, Priceline.com recommends that travelers try Nov. 23, 26 (Thanksgiving Day), 27 and 30. Highest fares were showing up for Nov. 20, 25 and 29.

For the December holidays, Priceline found the lowest fares on Dec. 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31 and Jan. 5, with highest fares on Dec. 17, 18, 19 and Jan. 2, 3 and 4.

To see the best travel days and sample airfares for specific itineraries, check out Priceline.com's customized Best Days To Fly Calendar at http://www.priceline.com/flights.

Other advice from Priceline: Pick times of the day that are normally less busy, like early morning, 5 a.m.-7 a.m., or after 8 p.m. Peak business travel hours are generally the most expensive, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m.