Something to keep in mind as you head home on the busiest travel day of the year:
The more hellish the flight, the more it may actually be worth paying for. That's because airlines with fewer flights and packed cabins are actually slashing rates to stay competitive.
(As we've already pointed out, less selection with deeper discounts seems to be tactic du jour for big company price wars.)
According to a new study by farecompare.com there are 80,000 fewer seats available for booking out of the 50 busiest cities this November, a 3.4 percent drop in overall surplus. But commuter cities like New York and DC and vacation hot spots like Las Vegas have had rate decreases equal to or nearly double their capacity loss. And even major hubs like San Francisco, which were likely flying nearly full planes to begin with, seem to have cut prices to retain the disgruntled customers they do have. After all, they could always go to Oakland.
Of course, some connection nightmares like Atlanta have been slow to follow suit, perhaps because they are sardined already and there isn't another nearby competing airport. The bottom line: That the beefy guy squeezed into the seat next to you is probably saving you some money—even if he's stealing the armrest.
To figure out if you would have saved more by visiting your parents instead of your in-laws, check out the interactive map here.