ROANOKE, Va.—The peak holiday travel season begins November 19 and air fare rates already reflect the added demand.
According to travel website, farecompare.com, it's nearly impossible to avoid peak travel surcharges, but you can minimize them by traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday and avoiding Sunday. Some airlines are adding fees of $10-30 per seat (each way) for travel through January 3.
A number of airlines also charge for seat assignments and do not allow passengers to opt out of an assignment. Additional fees include "premium seating". Traditionally, the exit rows and the bulkhead seats, which offer more leg room, were considered premium. According to Roanoke Regional Airport marketing manager Sherry Wallace, that's no longer the case.
"A recent flight I was on treated nearly every single seat that wasn’t a middle seat as “premium” and charged at least $10 extra dollars for it," Wallace said. "Also, if there are no “non premium” seats left when you book, you are forced to spend at least $10 or more for the so called better seats."
Air travelers should also be aware of the new passenger screening process which recently went into effect nationwide. TSA screeners, under the new policy, will choose outgoing passengers to conduct a pat-down search. Wallace said the method is invasive. TSA staff will use a flat, open hand to search the private areas of passengers singled out for enhanced screenings.