Home for the Holidays Will Cost You

With more travelers taking to the air and airlines still reluctant to add flights, you can go home for the holidays, but it will cost you.

Stranded airline passengers
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Stranded airline passengers

The price of the average domestic round trip airfare over the Thanksgiving holiday is up about 10 percent compared with last year to an average of $384, according to a study from online travel agency Travelocity.

The fares could even be higher than the average—perhaps as much as $170 more—depending on which day of the week you fly.

And while it may be difficult to think so far into the future, the cost of tickets for the December holidays may be even steeper than around Thanksgiving, according to Travelocity's research. At the moment, a very preliminary look shows the average domestic tickets in December are about 20 percent higher than they were a year ago.

"It's supply and demand," said Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity.

"If you've flown this summer you know: flights are full," Brown said. Consumers have started to fly again, but airlines are feeling confident enough to add back some of the flights they cut during the economic downturn.

Travelers should expect to pay holiday surcharges of as much as $30 for flying on peak travel days such as the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving.

But for travelers looking to stretch their travel budget further, consider how flexible you can be.

"Can you travel on Thanksgiving day?" Brown asks. "It isn't ideal, but if you can make it work, you can save."

The table below shows what can be gained or lost simply by picking another day to travel.

Courtesy of Travelocity

Brown also recommends considering alternative airports. For example, one of the most popular routes is travel between the New York area and South Florida. Both of those areas are serviced by three airports, and fares can vary depending on which airport you pick.

Booking as soon as you know your plans also is helpful. "You're not likely to save money by waiting," Brown said.

But watch out for connecting flights—although they are generally less expensive than a direct trip on the same route, during the peak travel times, they can be problematic. Flights are so full that a missed connection could result in a long delay.

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