Airfares jump 3% for holiday season, study says

The airlines may be taking a bigger bite out of your wallet if you plan to travel this holiday season.

The average domestic airfare for travel during the upcoming holiday season has risen about 3% over last year, according to an analysis by the travel website

The average domestic round-trip ticket for travel around Thanksgiving is now $393, compared with $382 last year at the same time, according to the website. The average domestic round-trip ticket around Christmas is $430, compared with $420 last year, the study found.

For flights out of Los Angeles-area airports, the average airline ticket for Thanksgiving is $422, up from $408 last year, Priceline said. For Christmas travel from Los Angeles, prices are an average of $469, up from $435 last year, the website said.

The fares were calculated based on tickets already bought by Priceline customers for holiday travel this year, compared with tickets purchased at the same time last year.

But Brian Ek, a spokesman for Priceline, said airlines could raise prices even more in the next few weeks if, for example, fuel costs increase or demand remains strong.

It is unlikely, he said, that prices will drop or stay even with last year's rates.

"Could prices maintain what they were last year?" he said. "Not likely. There is just too much demand."

Airline industry experts say the higher fares can be attributed to higher fuel costs, cutbacks in capacity by the airlines and steady growth in demand.

In the first six months of the year, the number of passengers flying on domestic and international from the U.S. increased by 1.6%, compared with the same period last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In that same period, the number of seats available grew by only 0.4%, the agency said.


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