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AAA: plan ahead, shop around for best holiday airfare prices

Picking a non-peak travel day and possibly using a legacy airline could save you some money as air travel demand is high for holiday season.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Given the circumstances, packing up the family truckster may seem like the ideal way to travel for the holiday season

Tourism analysts say that demand is high across the country for holiday travel, and flying isn't excluded from that. 

So how can you get the best airfare for the holiday? AAA of Western and Central New York says the strategy for getting the best price is to plan ahead and be flexible.

"airfares change regularly," said Brian Murray, director of travel for AAA of Western and Central New York. "They change based on day of the week they change based on destination."

Being flexible, in the case of holiday travel, may mean choosing one holiday over another based on the best price you can get. 

"Right now, I looked at airfares for someone traveling from Los Angeles to Buffalo for Thanksgiving," Murray said. "The ticket was $1,000, but to travel from Los Angeles to Buffalo for Christmas, it was $512."

Additionally, while a bargain airline may seem like a default to book, legacy airlines are often just as affordable if you purchase a non-peak time to fly, says AAA. 

"Thanksgiving is very challenging because people want to all travel back home the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is typically the busiest travel day of the year," Murray said. "The days leading up to Christmas, where people might come the 18th or 19th or 20th, that's where the flexibility lies."

The same strategy applies if you don't care about holiday travel, but instead are debating whether to travel to one of the Buffalo Bills away games. While it might be easy to get caught up in the excitement as they continue to win, AAA says to plan ahead if you can. 

"I know Miami is coming up this weekend, but when you look at a destination with something even like Miami, there's Fort Lauderdale, there's West Palm Beach, there's Miami, people should look at alternate airports," Murray said.

At the end of the day, while doing your fair share of internet sleuthing for the best deal will work to some degree, Murray says the golden ticket can be found if you plan accordingly. 

"Planning early, I think it's really important," Murray said. "Flexibility is also key, and we're really hoping that this busy fall and holiday season spring travel, we won't see those delays that we saw in the summer."

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