DETROIT (WWJ) – After a short-lived dip in airfares for Christmas and the winter holidays, priceline.com reported that the average retail holiday airfare is now $473, or 14 percent higher than at this time last year. That percentage is based on ticket sales for the last month.

The recent spike is in sharp contrast with the way average winter holiday airfares had been trending earlier.

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In October, priceline.com reported that the average winter holiday airfare was $475, or 1 percent higher than fares for the same period a year ago. In November, the average fare dropped to $451, which was still a modest 3 percent above 2010.

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“We believed that, eventually, the fourth quarter capacity cutbacks made by several of the country’s largest airlines would be reflected in higher holiday fares,” priceline.com’s Brian Ek said in a release. “That trend should continue now that we are inside the 21-day advance-purchase window when fares typically begin to move up.”

Ek said holiday travelers can still find lower fares by carefully selecting off-peak travel days.

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According to Priceline’s Best Days To Fly Calendar for the winter holidays:

  • The most affordable days to fly over the Christmas holiday are December 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25 and 31.