For best deals, look for holiday flights now

The Dallas Morning News

Haven't booked your winter holiday flights yet? Get to it.tmpplchld Fares can be pretty expensive for travel during Christmas and New Year's, but if you are flexible, you can find deals that won't break the bank.tmpplchld For the best deal, consider flying on the actual holiday: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Other days to try are Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the time when most kids are out of school on holiday break. This year, most students will have their final day of classes on Dec. 18 and return to school Jan. 4.tmpplchld Try to avoid travel on Saturdays and Sundays from December through Jan. 3, because in most cases, fares will be higher than other days of the week. One of the most expensive days to travel is Jan. 3, so steer clear if you can.tmpplchld Dallas-area airportstmpplchld When looking for fares out of Dallas, be sure to consider flights from both Dallas Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Check booking sites like Bestfares.com or Orbitz that show fares from multiple airlines and offer a flexible calendar.tmpplchld The flexible calendar can help pinpoint the cheapest dates to travel. Sometimes, changing by a day or two can save money big-time. Southwest doesn't offer its fares through other online sites, so you'll also want to check its website. But remember, if you are checking luggage, Southwest offers two free checked bags up to 50 pounds each.tmpplchld If fares to your destination are high, consider nearby airports. For example, we checked flights from Portland and at press time, flights were considerably cheaper flying into Austin than either Dallas or Houston. Also look at connecting flights, because nonstops can be priced much higher. In many markets you can save hundreds of dollars by using alternate airports, and/or connecting flights. When buying tickets for your whole family, that cost difference can really add up.tmpplchld We looked at sample fares from Dallas that were available at press time. Fares from Dallas to Chicago for travel Dec. 25 to 31 were as low as $207 on Spirit, $221 on United, $222 on Southwest and $283 on American. We also checked Dallas to New York for travel Dec. 24 to 31, and fares started at $225 on Delta and $237 on Spirit, both nonstops, and $234 on United with a stop. One of the best prices we saw for holiday travel was Dallas to Atlanta with round-trip fares at $89 from Spirit and $137 from American for travel Dec. 24 to 31.tmpplchld Hidden coststmpplchld While Spirit often offers the cheapest fares, you have to pay for pretty much everything beyond your fare, including soft drinks. Spirit will assign you a seat at check-in for free, but you'll have to pay for advanced seat assignments. If you are traveling with your family, you probably don't want to be spread out all over the plane, so you'll end up paying for seats.tmpplchld Spirit charges for both checked and carry-on bags and your cheapest option is to pay when you book your ticket online. Make sure you consider the fare, plus add-on fees, when comparing Spirit ticket prices with other airlines.tmpplchld If you are looking for a deal for travel during the holidays, you need to look now, and you need to be flexible. In past years, we have seen fares drop close to the holidays if there were empty seats to sell, but it's hard to predict whether that will happen in your market. If you see a good price now, book. The fares may not last long.tmpplchld If you can wait to travel until after the holidays, we should see some great deals for travel in January and early February.tmpplchld ___tmpplchld (Tom Parsons is CEO of www.bestfares.com. Email him at media@bestfares.com.)tmpplchld ___tmpplchld (c)2015 The Dallas Morning Newstmpplchld Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.comtmpplchld Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.tmpplchld

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