Last-minute holiday travel

Q: I still need to make holiday travel plans, but I’ve missed out on the early-bird discounts offered by the airlines. Is there any way for last-minute travelers like me to save money?

A: If you’ve missed the typical 14- or 21-day advance purchase discount, you’ll probably have to make a few compromises to save money–and get a reservation during this time of year. Consider traveling during the week, such as on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when crowds are lighter. Or, fly out of a smaller airport, such as Baltimore Airport, instead of a larger city airport like Dulles in Washington, D.C. You can also save by taking a connecting flight instead of a direct flight. If you’re down to the wire, you may have to travel on Thanksgiving or Christmas day, when seats are more likely to be available. If your travel agent doesn’t turn up any bargains, some last- minute deals may be found on the Internet. US Airways E-Savers (www.usair.com) deals are posted on Wednesdays for travel the upcoming weekend. Some discount phone numbers also promise low airfares, such as 800-FLY-4-LESS, 800-LOW AIR-FARE and 800-FLYCHEAP. Just give the operator your city of origin, destination and dates of travel, and you’ll get the lowest available price.

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