Grab those Turkey-Day airline tickets now

A plane taking off at Reagan National Airport. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
A plane taking off at Reagan National Airport. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Yes, the middle “A” in AAA does stand for “automobile” but the venerable AAA also doubles as a travel agency for its members, and keeping track of airfares is one of the things the AAA does (along with monitoring the fluctuation of gas prices and determining in advance how many people say they plan to travel on holiday weekends).

The AAA sent out an advisory Monday intended for people who hope to fly somewhere over the incredibly busy Thanksgiving period. “Thanksgiving airfares are on the rise, and each day that you dilly-dally around and fail to book will cost you five dollars more,” the AAA said.

With a lot of discount fares requiring reservations a week, two weeks or three weeks in advance, and Thanksgiving just 31 days away, there’s still time to get a more favorable fare before prices go up at the “14-day advance purchase cut-off” date.

The advice from AAA is consistent with that offered by a couple of airfare pricing experts at a panel hosted by the industry trade group Airlines for America last month. While two former airline executives on the panel weren’t talking about any specific holiday, they said that the best advice for general travel is neither to book too early or at the last minute, but during the middle period when the airline isn’t sure how many tickets it’s going to be able to sell for a specific flight, so prices get lowers. At Thanksgiving, however, they know that every seat will be filled, so waiting too long to book is bound to be a losing game.

Elizabeth Kameru at AAA Travel Service echoed that advice Monday: “The airlines sell only a limited number of seats at the lowest fares, and that’s especially true during the peak holiday travel season. When those seats sell out, the price goes up.”

During the Thanksgiving period last year, AAA says 3.14 million Americans flew somewhere. The AAA projected air travel will be up this year.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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Ashley Halsey III | October 28, 2013