I rarely buy plane tickets this far out, but something made me think buying holiday tickets right now might be a good idea. Things, for example, like this:
The Department of Justice’s somewhat surprising lawsuit to stop the merger of American Airlines with US Airways may not offer much help for passengers hoping that competition among the majors will keep a ceiling on airfares. Like any commodity, airfares are a function of supply and demand — and carriers have been removing supply from the market. Some 13 million departing seats have been vanished from the system in the past year, according to Aviation DataMiner.
It’s crowded up there, and it’s going to stay that way.
Which is to say, don’t expect much in the way of bargains over the next peak period, the Thanksgiving holiday. “Fares will be up slightly, but not a lot,” says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com. His advice is to keep checking on prices until you see one you like. Conversely, if you have the travel bug, one of the cheaper times to fly is right about now: September is a slow period of the airlines.
Right now round-trip fares from Chicago to San Francisco for Christmas week start around $400. I can comfort myself thinking that's only $250 in 1995 dollars...
Update: Total fare, $452. That was the lowest available on American for any round-trip that got me into San Francisco for December 24 and 25.