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Travel Sites Say "Don't Panic" About High Holiday Airfares

(BOSTON), Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Boston based company Airfarewatchdog today urged travelers to not panic about media reports claiming that expensive airfares will be commonplace during peak holiday travel this year. The site's founder, George Hobica, notes, "Some routes, especially those served by a large number of airlines, have experienced wide fluctuations in price, and not just in the up direction."

The website found fares from Newark to San Francisco, departing the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returning the Sunday after, for over $600 round-trip including taxes. Two days later, seats could be had for $389 round-trip with taxes and two days after that, fares had begun to climb again.

To find a holiday airfare bargain, Hobica also suggests that travelers:

-- Check fares every day, several times a day, and when travelers see a fare they can afford or consider reasonable - grab it.

-- Don't hesitate to book a fare if they find a peak holiday airfare for long haul routes under $400 round-trip with tax, or under $300 on shorter haul routes.

-- Fly airlines that give full "fare drop" refunds. Three airlines--Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska--will refund the difference in full if a fare goes down between the time they buy and the time they fly. Refunds are in the form of a credit good for future travel; other airlines offer refunds, but deduct $100 to $150 from any money due, often wiping out any savings.

-- Check airline sites directly, since airlines don't always share their entire seat inventory with third party search and aggregator sites.

Hobica adds, "Some reports have holiday travel going down 20 percent from last year, and if that happens, airlines may find themselves with empty seats just before the holidays. The airlines are holding out for the highest prices they can get, but last year they lowered fares a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and although airfare trends are impossible to predict accurately, we wouldn't be shocked to see this happen again this year. The moral of the story is that fares, like stocks, never go in just one direction. We're advising consumers not to give up hope if they see an airfare that seems beyond their reach."