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Airlines double holiday travel surcharge

Flying on off-peak days will save you money.

By Teresa Mears Nov 3, 2009 3:43PM

Baggage fees, booking fees, airfare sales –- and now travel surcharges for holiday periods. These days, you practically need an MBA to buy an airline ticket.


Which day you pick to travel could make a big difference in how much you pay. Because while we are seeing heavily discounted fares for some days near the holidays, flying other days carries a hefty surcharge, $20 each way.


Delta, Northwest, American and United have doubled the surcharge they've imposed for the busiest travel days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, USA Today reports. The airlines began charging an extra $10 each way at the end of September for some peak travel days, and that charge has now been doubled, to $20 each way.


When you check airline fares online, the travel surcharge usually is included as part of the ticket price. Other airline fees, such as baggage fees, will be added later. Smarter Travel has a comprehensive list of fees, updated Oct. 20.

Tom Parsons of told USA Today that, unlike last year, it’s better to book your holiday travel now, rather than wait for fares to decline later. Last year, airlines offered fare sales into December in an attempt to fill empty seats.


But, this year, the airlines have cut the number of seats, making it possible for them to impose a surcharge on peak travel days.


The initial $10 surcharge initially was just for travel Nov. 29, Jan. 2 and 3.  But FareCompare notes that 10 additional days were added later, including Nov. 30, Dec. 19, Dec. 26-27 and days around Spring Break and Memorial Day. It's not clear if all those days carry a $20 surcharge or if the surcharge is lower on some days. FareCompare has a holiday air travel guide with tips on finding the lowest fares.


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