Q: Hi, Peter. My question is will I see prices drop if I wait until after the holidays to book a flight to see my family, or should I book now, as it seems that flights keep going up? I realize that you cannot make promises, but I am wondering if there is a particular trend.
- Kelli Van Lunsen, Phoenix
A: Great question, Kelli. Historically, procrastination has actually paid off as airlines would sell seats at the last minute for reduced prices. But it's a brave new world these days, with airlines cutting capacity across the board. Couple that with major airline mergers, and you've got decreased competition, which generally pushes prices higher. So when it comes to holiday travel, you want to book now, and not wait and gamble.
Now, here's where it gets interesting. You're very smart to consider post-holiday travel, which is known in the industry as the "dead week." The week after Thanksgiving and New Year's are the slow season for most destinations, so it's a great time to travel. That's when no one else is flying, and you'll practically be able to go bowling down those aisles. In that case, you can hold off and look for deals as you get closer to the date.
But don't wait until after the holidays to start looking. The key is to be vigilant: Start now and keep looking on the airline sites for sales, sign up for email alerts, and pay attention to Twitter for "flash sales." Check out Bing Travel's Farecast feature, which uses historical trends to determine whether you should buy now or wait on a certain route. And AARP partner Expedia offers the "Trend Tracker," which helps you find the least expensive hotel and flight prices for the time you want to travel. Compare historical price and weather trends to get the best value. But it pays to be flexible when it comes to post-holiday travel — don't get locked into a certain plan, so when you see a deal that fits your budget, that's when you jump.
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