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Best time of year to shop for air travel is just beginning

Tuesday - 8/26/2014, 4:49am  ET

Airplane (Getty)
A travel expert calls Aug. 25 the "magic date" -- air fares will fall between now and Thanksgiving. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- The end of summer vacation may be just the time to shop for -- well, a vacation.

The summer surcharge finally relented this week, and most airfares will remain markedly lower until the holidays.

FareCompare named Aug. 25 the so-called "magic date" when the peak summer ticket prices go into hibernation.

"Airlines have decided that kids are going back to school, and they no longer have to charge you Christmas rates for airfare," says Rick Seaney, FareCompare's CEO.

"I've seen prices drop across the country ... 10, 20, and sometimes even 30 and 40 percent, especially on non-stops," he says.

The airfare deals -- or return to normal, if you like -- continue through the second week in November.

Analysts generally consider this stretch one of the most affordable times for air travel, followed by the first two weeks in December.

"It is the perfect time of year to fly," Seaney says. "Airlines have to fill up those empty middle seats."

He considers September and October the best times of the year to visit Europe. Fares are lower, the weather is more pleasant and shops and restaurants have reopened after the traditional August holiday.

Generally, the most affordable days to depart are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

But before going on a booking binge, Seaney say it may be time to think about Thanksgiving already.

As ever, those with traditional Wednesday-through-Sunday travel plans will have to grin and bear it.

"You need to be shopping for that ticket now," he says. "It's only going to be a better bad deal at the moment."

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