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October 30, 2014 Published in Holiday Happenings, Traffic & Transportation

Book Holiday Flights Now To Get The Best Deals And Lowest Fares For Thanksgiving And Christmas

Flying home for Thanksgiving and Christmas? With millions of Americans flying home this year, you should become an early bird and book your flight from the three major airports in the area no later than this week, advises AAA Travel Service. The clock is ticking on flight deals and that’s not just a proverbial saying. After all, Thanksgiving Day is only 28 days away and Christmas is just 56 days away.

Last week, one airline was offering one-way flights as low as $39 for Thanksgiving travelers buying tickets by Thursday. Missed that deal? Travel experts say you can add $5 a day to your airline ticket price for every day you delay booking that flight. Waiting a couple weeks could cost you nearly 25 percent more. Last year, 3.14 million Americans, including 73,000 Washington area residents, flew to their Thanksgiving destinations.

This compares to 3.26 million Thanksgiving holiday air passengers, including 76,000 Washingtonians, in 2012. Believe it or not, last Thanksgiving the average lowest round-trip rate for the top 40 U.S. air routes was only $187. This compares to only $188 for round-trip flights to those cities during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Flight prices can also vary greatly based on your travel location. Make sure to also factor in whether you are paying baggage fees.

“To find the best Thanksgiving airfares at this juncture, travelers need to be flexible with their travel plans in terms of dates and times,” advises Denise Gibson, a travel agent with AAA Travel Service. “Many discount fares require that travelers make a reservation seven, 14, or 21 days in advance, depending on the hub and the airline. Nonstop flights are usually the first to sell out, so you would want to book those soon.”

Here’s the good news. It is not too late to take advantage of this window of opportunity if you know how to book and where to search for affordable airfares, according to travel agents with AAA, the largest leisure travel organization in the nation and the Washington metro region. Here are some days to avoid if you are looking for a cheaper air fare, the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday and the Sunday following Thanksgiving Day.

Many airlines are already offering Thanksgiving flights and airfare deals on line. Book a flight reservation now because the fares and availability are subject to change. With Thanksgiving being four weeks away and Christmas coming in eight weeks, a majority of Americans see value in using a travel agent, according to a recent survey by AAA. Eighty-five percent of Americans find travel agents provide cost-effective, trouble-free, personalized vacation planning.

“Travelers see great value in working with an agent,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “They enjoy working with travel agents, who can save them time, money and the frustration of navigating the many complex travel offerings that are available today.”

The most frequent benefits travelers cited when using the services of an agent were:

Travel agents are a knowledgeable resource, providing a great vacation experience (26 percent)

Planning a vacation that is fun for all can be a daunting. An experienced and knowledgeable travel agent can provide recommendations to clients based on their interests and expectations, whether that’s a family-friendly vacation, a stay at an all-inclusive resort, a memorable honeymoon, or a first-time cruise. Travelers who work with the same agent repeatedly also enjoy a familiarity that makes it even easier to select a destination or cruise to match their travel tastes.

Travel agents know the best deals, saving their clients money (23 percent)

Travel agents work with cruise lines, hotels and tour operators every day and often have access to special rates and added benefits that are not available elsewhere. They can provide clients information on values and savings during certain times of the year—for example when a cruise line is offering extra incentives to sail to a destination, special offers for residents or military personnel, or special promotions for kids to travel, eat or stay free.

Travel agents make reservations and bookings, saving time (20 percent)

Selecting the right destination, hotel, cruise line or theme park is a time-consuming task. A qualified travel agent can take care of all the arrangements and stay on top of every detail, saving travelers time to focus on other priorities.

Travel agents can help if something goes wrong, providing peace of mind (16 percent)

Perhaps one of the greatest values in working with a travel agent is the peace of mind they offer when something goes wrong on a vacation. If flights are suddenly cancelled, a hotel doesn't meet travelers’ standards, or a hurricane hits a key tourist destination, travelers who booked their trip through a travel agent can make a call to their agent, who can make alternate arrangements immediately.

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