Holiday travel bargain hunters: Be flexible

October 21, 2009 (CHICAGO) If you haven't bought your tickets yet, be prepared to hand over big bucks. But there are actually some bargains still out there if you're flexible.

The trend for travelers nowadays is to book trips to faraway destinations and to plan their trips further in advance, for instance, making arrangements for Thanksgiving 11 months out. But not everyone has their trip nailed down.

"My dad's got a place in Arizona so I might be going out there this year," said Mark Leloup, traveler.

"Originally I'm from New York so we may go back there to visit and probably to Vegas for Christmas," said Glenn Player, traveler.

Those who have yet to make their holiday travel plans can still find good bargains with ticket prices running about 9 percent less compared to last year.

"Air prices are down for both Thanksgiving and Christmas for all of our top ten most popular destinations," said Marita Hudson Thomas, Orbitz.

The most popular place for Chicagoans to go is anywhere warm and since many airlines have slashed flight this year seats are at a premium. But with a little more effort, you can still get to where you want to go.

"Someone might consider if they were going to Phoenix, look at Tucson. If you're going to Miami, look at Ft. Lauderdale," said Gary Trick, Windy City Travel.

Passengers should keep a close eye on fares as well as airline fees from baggage charges to the first ever holiday surcharge on certain flights.

That's $10 to fly on popular days during the holiday travel season like the day before and Sunday after Thanksgiving. So to get more for your money, you are advised to be flexible.

"The airports are at their capacity on prime dates. The passenger can save some hardship on themselves by going on an off day when the airport is not going to be as insane," said Trick.

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