Waiting to pay for plane tickets may cost you

Posted at: 12/11/2012 8:14 PM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 8:17 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

With two weeks to go until Christmas, people may have been holding off for last minute deals on gifts. But if you have not booked those plane tickets yet, there is a good chance you will have to pay top dollar.

Tuesday at the Albuquerque International Sunport, KOB Eyewitness News 4 found some people already traveling for the holidays.

Akunnaya Ezenyilimba, headed to Nigeria with her family, said planning ahead paid off big time. Her family purchased tickets in early October and chose to travel two weeks ahead of Christmas when seats are less in demand.

"I think the prices would have been much higher if we waited 'til now to get the tickets," Ezenyilimba said.

If you have not made travel plans yet, be prepared to pay up.

"Don't give up," travel agent Alfred Volden, owner of All World Travel, said.

There are seats available, Volden said, they just might not be offered at the price you're willing to pay.

This late in the game, flexibility is key.

"If you have a set-only time you can travel, then that fare might be higher," Volden said. "But you might be able to move your travel by a little bit and save some money by taking another flight."

Cashing in frequent flyer miles are also a cost-effective way to travel, with some restrictions.

"He had to travel on certain dates so they have to leave before Christmas so we're going to be celebrating early," Ashley Floyd, whose parents were arriving from Alaska, said.

Airlines across the board are tightening the belt, Daniel Jiron, Sunport spokesman, said.

"We're going to see fuller airplane and fewer flights," Jiron said. "You'd rather see an airplane that's 85 to 90% full than one that's 60 to 65% full. So what that does to us, it limits the number of seats and also reduces the number of choices, frankly."

But for those only traveling a couple hundred miles away or less, driving may be the best option. Gas prices in Albuquerque range from $2.92 to $3.50 a gallon for regular unleaded.

Then again, it may be impossible to put a price on making it home for the holidays.

It may be a little too late to find a good airfare deal for this Christmas, but when it comes to next year, it may pay to plan ahead.