If you’re taking to the air this summer, expect to pay top dollar and be crammed on crowded airplanes.
Airlines predict that more people will fly this year compared to last summer and a spike in fuel prices means you will likely face higher ticket prices.
A recent forecast from the Bing Travel search engine predicts the average ticket will cost passengers $561, up 15 percent from 2010.
When searching for the lowest fares, the sweet spot to buy seems to be between 21 and 90 days before departure.
Experts say be flexible and look for off-peak travel times. For example, try flying on a Monday morning instead of Sunday night.
To find deals, friend or follow airlines on social media.
“Sometimes they tweet or post on their Facebook pages unique deals that can be really great,” said Consumer Reports editor Mandy Walker. “Unfortunately they go really quick so you want to keep alert to that and book quickly if you do see them.”
The federal government has rules on the ways that airlines must disclose added fees, but they don’t take effect until August.
“They’ll have to be included in ticket prices and advertised prices, but of course that won’t take place until later this year,” Walker said.
Until then get out those calculators and do your own legwork. Factor in how much you might spend on things like baggage feeds, on-board snacks and premium seating.