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Originally published Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 7:05 PM

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Ask Travel

Saving on holiday airfares

Q: I've read so many times that holiday airfares are much higher this year than last, so I have been afraid even to look. When are the cheapest...

Saving on holiday flights

Q: I've read so many times that holiday airfares are much higher this year than last, so I have been afraid even to look. When are the cheapest days to travel and when are the cheapest days to search for airfares this holiday?

Should I wait until the last minute or is it already too late?

A: On average, fares are higher this year than last. But you may be able to find a relative bargain, even at the last minute if the airlines capitulate and lower fares on a few seats.

Here are my ways for finding travel deals for the holidays:

• Keep looking at least three times a day until you find something good (you have nothing to lose except a few minutes of your time). Fares fluctuate throughout the day, and the number of seats at the lowest fare can change minute by minute.

• Sign up for fare alerts from travel websites (such as Yapta, TripAdvisor, FareCompare, Airfarewatchdog).

• Be willing to take inconvenient flight times (6 a.m. departures, red-eye flights, etc.) and connecting flights.

• Look at nearby alternate airports. (It may be cheaper flying one way into one airport, and out of a nearby airport.)

• Check Southwest.com, Allegiantair.com and Spiritair.com separately (assuming they fly where you're going); these airlines do not share their fares (or best fares in the case of Spirit) with third-party websites.

• Travel on Thanksgiving Day, return the Saturday or Monday after, or on Christmas Day and return the Tuesday or Wednesday after.

— George Hobica / Airfarewatchdog.com

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