Think it's too expensive to fly over peak Christmas travel dates this year? Well, that all depends on where you're going.

This morning we found the following fares, most leaving the Monday or Tuesday before the holiday and returning Saturday, Sunday, or Monday after. All are roundtrip including taxes:

  • New York JFK to Los Angeles, $391 nonstop on American
  • Philadelphia to Orlando $185 nonstop on US Air ($145 if you return the Saturday after Xmas)
  • Boston to Las Vegas $358 nonstop on US Air
  • New York LaGaurdia to London Heathrow $585 on Air Canada
  • Last night, New York to Cancun was $469; this morning it's $618, which simply tells you that fares fluctuate every day, or even several times a day.

Many of these fares/routes have only a few seats left.

Here are some tips for holiday travel:

1) Fares have been going up and down like crazy, so it pays to keep checking and don't give up hope of finding a reasonable fare even for peak holiday or Feb school vacation travel. Airlines have cut back seat capacity, but the economy -- and seat demand--has been deteriorating even faster

2) If you book with United, Alaska, or Southwest, and the fare drops between the time you buy and flight time, these airlines will give you a fare difference voucher, good for use within a year, with no fee deducted (other airlines deduct up to $150 or more from the refund)

3) Use a flexible date search on Travelocity, Orbitz, or Cheaptickets.... American and Southwest also have good flexible date searches. Adjust your travel dates a little and you can save a lot.

4) Leaving on Mon before Xmas and returning on Xmas Day or Mon Dec 29 is a good strategy for flying cheaply on most routes

5) Search discount airline sites directly--they often have fares they don't share with Kayak, Orbitz, etc.

6) Consider the extra fees you might encounter, based on your situation---heavy bags, pet in cabin, and so on... the cheapest fare may not be that cheap depending on the fees you get stuck with. Southwest is the least fee-happy airline; United and Delta appear to be the most.

7) If you have bags weighing over 50lbs, or oversized bags, or a lot of bags (more than 2) consider shipping Priority Mail or FedEx ground to arrive before you do

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