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Ready for that holiday flight? Here's some help

"Today" travel editor Peter Greenberg shares some pointers that will save you time and money on your next trip.

Whether you’re thinking about taking a plane, train or automobile, we’re embarking on the busiest time of the year to travel. With the holidays looming ahead, if you haven't already made your travel plans you could be in trouble. Some analysts and airlines are warning that due to less flights and more security, all travelers must be more organized than ever this year. In this first part of a special four-part series called, “Greenberg’s Rules of Travel,” “Today” travel editor Peter Greenberg tackles the topic of airline travel. Here he shares his rules:

Quick facts about holiday travel this year:

  • This holiday season is expected to be one of the busiest on record. (AAA)
  • The average airfare is up 10-15 percent from a year ago. (Sabre Airlines Solutions)
  • Nine fare hikes over the same period. (Sabre Airlines Solutions)
  • Advanced bookings are up 42 percent. (Sabre Airlines Solutions)

Greenberg's Rules of Airline Travel:

Rule #1: Talk to a human being
You should always talk to a human being first. The Internet is useful but not a bible. And remember, once you book something on the phone you have 24 hours in which to purchase. It's in that 24-hour window that you can then surf the web and if you can beat that deal, great. But if you start with the Internet first, it's easy to get trapped.

Rule #2: Be a contrarian
I disobey almost all airport signs. Departure boards lie. I leave by going to the airport arrivals area, and when I arrive I get picked up at departures. It's a great way to avoid lines and crowds, and save valuable time. And I courier my bags on domestic flights, saving two hours of my life every time I travel.

Rule #3: Undress for success
Don't dress for the airport because you'll not only waste time, but you'll waste my time. Instead, put everything metal in plastic bags in your carry on bag, and I mean everything metal, then dress on the other side of security.

Good websites to help you find deals:
-www.kayak.com-www.site59.com

More helpful hints:
The good news that happened late on Thursday is that Northwest Airlines has discounted holiday tickets for the first time in two years, which means there are still deals to be had. The cheapest fares require travel on Thanksgiving or the day after, with a return trip the following Wednesday. The other "Super Bargain Day" falls on Christmas. Smaller discounts are spread between November 16 and January 8. The fares require a seven-day advance purchase for travel between November 16 and January 8, with a two-day minimum stay.

And don't forget to keep new security rules in mind. One liquid container can be a maximum of three ounces, and if you are bringing on more than one container, everything must fit in a quart-sized, resealable plastic bag. Only one bag is allowed per person, although there are some exceptions for liquid medications. However, you can take liquids and gels — of any size - onto airliners if you buy them from stores inside the airport's security checkpoints.