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Fall will bring a drop in airfares

Tuesday - 7/31/2012, 3:39am  ET

AP: a36256bd-c2db-46a0-8c2e-ef93958a707d
The government can require airlines to show consumers a total ticket price that includes taxes and fees in print and online ads, the U.S. Court of Appeals said Tuesday, July 24, 2012. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The end is near. No, not an apocalyptic proclamation. The end of summer's peak airline prices is at hand.

By next month, the celebrated back-to-school season will bring a drop in airfares.

"For flights departing on or after Aug. 21, you basically are being considered fall rates," says Rick Seaney, co-founder and chief executive officer of FareCompare.

He projects domestic flights costing 10 percent to 20 percent less after that seemingly magical date in late August.

"These fall rates have peak travel surcharges dropped off," he says.

On average, Seaney says summer airfare was 5 percent to 8 percent more expensive than the previous year.

In 2011, airlines tried 22 times to increase prices. Nine of those were successful.

This year, just four out of seven attempts have been approved, indicating the pace has slowed.

"That tells me that airlines are sort of at that saturation point where people just quit booking when they raise prices," Seaney says.

But looking for a flight in late August can result in the good kind of sticker shock.

"After sort of a painful spring and summer, there's going to be a brief respite - at least, for those people who don't have kids and can travel in [the fall]," he says.

He recommends shopping early - as in, now - for travel dates in September and October. In general, tickets for traveling on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday cost less.

As for when to book your tickets, bargain hunters usually have the most success Tuesday through Thursday.

Follow Andrew Mollenbeck and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)