Summer Ends Early, Airlines Offer Deals

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Example: I looked at prices over the weekend on United Airlines for round-trip flights between Los Angeles and New York with a return on Aug. 22; the cheapest fare I found was $459; if you start traveling the very next day, your fare drops $80. It can drop even more on Southwest if you move your trip from early August to early September.

Bonus time: The fall airfare season ushers in delights beyond a bigger wad in your wallet, including better deals at hotels and shorter lines at popular attractions like Disney World. The herd thins out by late August and I'd like to say planes will be emptier, too, but I can't. The whole reason airlines do this seasonal discounting is to fill up their planes to stay in business. However, I can just about guarantee there will be fewer kids kicking your seatback on fall flights.

Even better (and this is a biggie): You may have a sweeter security experience. That's because the Transportation Security Administration is starting to install new software in those body scan machines to replace the so-called "naked picture" images that have driven so many passengers crazy. Perhaps you heard about the role-reversal incident earlier this month in which an apparently enraged Colorado woman was accused of groping a security agent.

The new security software has two advantages: It makes you look like a cartoonish cookie-cutter image, and you can see it for yourself. No more agents holed up in a "secret" room, viewing a somewhat graphic portrait of your parts behind locked doors; your Gingerbread Man-like picture will be family-friendly, from what I've seen. Look for the software upgrades in the next few months.

So start packing. Enjoy some of that fall foliage. But don't wait too long. When the leaves disappear, the airlines usher in the most expensive time of the year to fly. Think turkey, cranberries, stuffing...

This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.

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