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Kip Tips

Surcharge-Free Holiday Travel

By now you've probably heard that American, Delta and United are adding a $10 surcharge for flights on the peak travel days of November 29, January 2 and 3. So what? The airlines have always charged more for flights on high-traffic days, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.


The fact that it's a holiday surcharge is what's raising eyebrows -- it's yet another fee in the ever-growing list of fees airlines are charging. But Hobica says the only reason it's called a surcharge is because airlines are hiking prices on just a few select days -- rather than for a few weeks or an entire month. "It's just a different way of charging more" for holiday travel, he says.

So if you want to save $10, don't fly on those peak travel days. In fact, you'll save a lot more than $10.

For example, you can save $100 by flying Thanksgiving day from Washington, D.C., to Nashville, Tenn., and returning Saturday rather than flying the day before Thanksgiving and returning Sunday, according to a search we did on Expedia.com. Hobica says airlines likely will cut fares on those off-peak days two weeks before Thanksgiving.

If you plan to fly during the Christmas holiday, you'll find the lowest fares for flights leaving December 22 and returning December 28, Hobica says. The priciest fares will be on flights December 23, 24 and 27.
 
When comparing fares to find the best deal, be sure to consider fees, too. Airfarewatchdog.com has several fee charts that can help. If you expect to have oversize, heavy bags packed with gifts for the holidays, you might pay less shipping them by FedEx (ground) than checking them on your flight and getting hit with fees, Hobica says.