santa-tanning-300x225With summer officially starting next Monday and the mercury rising,  what better time to start thinking about your travel plans for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s?  Airlines have already released flight schedules far beyond New Year’s and frugal travelers know that this an excellent time to get airfare deals for the fall and winter holidays.

For example, Southwest Airlines released schedules from November through Jan. 7 on Tuesday.  Within 3 hours, five of 12 direct and change-of-plane schedules from Chicago to Tampa International Airport on the Sunday after Thanksgiving were sold out.  By Wednesday afternoon, only one flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York’s LaGuardia for the day before Thanksgiving was available at its lowest one-way fare of $221.

While holiday flights are being scooped up quickly, there may be a fare sale or two between now and the holiday season, so keep an eye peeled.  The Miami Herald recently reported that, “airlines typically file their airfare sales on Monday evening, and during the morning hours Tuesday other airlines scramble to match, so at about 3 p.m. ET is when there are the maximum number of cheap domestic flights.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • American Airlines recently announced it will offer “Your Choice” services to its customers.  As part of the initial Your Choice offering, American is introducing a “Boarding and Flexibility Package.”  Customers that purchase the Boarding and Flexibility Package get: (1) Group 1 general boarding, (2) a $75 flight change discount, (3) the ability to standby for an earlier flight at no charge,  and (4) special airfare offers.  The “introductory price” for the package ranges from $9 to $19 one way and varies based on the market and routing.
  • A study published in May by IdeaWorks, a consulting firm, showed that, for travel dates from June through October 2010, award seats aboard Continental were available 71.4% of the time, followed by United (68.6%), American (57.9%) and Delta (12.9%).  TIME.com noted that, “Unless you book months, or even a year, in advance, (award) seats on the most traveled routes and times are almost never available.”
  • A Southwest Airlines employee discovered between 40 and 60 human heads during a routine security check.  The worker made the gruesome discovery when he realized the container, bound for a medical research company in Ft. Worth, TX, had not been properly labeled.  Authorities are now investigating the situation.