Buy Your Holiday Plane Tickets Now to Avoid Fare Hikes

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Buckle up—this holiday season is on track to bring higher-priced airfares than in recent years. Because of multiple mergers and American Airlines' financial troubles, most airlines have cut back flight schedules; figure about one in five fewer flights in November and December compared to those months in 2008.

Having constricted supply, expect the airlines to raise prices. And don't bank on any late holiday sales. Starting next week, each day you wait to book tickets for Thanksgiving and the December holidays can cost you an additional $5 on average, says Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com.

The lone exception: international airfares, which are generally fairly low for the holidays as of right now—with a good chance for last-minute sales. Long weekend visiting European Christmas markets, anyone?

A Budget Travel pointer:

Buy one ticket at a time. When you hunt for multiple tickets online, and there aren't enough of the cheapest seats to go around, the computer will bump up to higher priced tickets without showing you what you're missing. If you shop one by one, you can save on one or more ticket.

SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL:

Save on Airfare With "Hidden City Ticketing" If you're flying to a smaller US airport prone to high ticket prices, like Memphis, you may save by trying this sneaky practice.

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