Gas Prices Skyrocking

Knoxville (WVLT) - Sky high gas prices mean it could cost you more to travel in the sky. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Knoxville is nearly 3 dollars.
That's up almost 25 cents from last month.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's has more on how prices on the ground drive up prices in the sky.

Travel experts say jet fuels one of largest operating cost for airlines. So when the cost of crude oil takes off, so does the cost of your plane ticket.

Pricier pumps perplex Jackie Birdwell.

"I just don't understand. They were going down. Everything seemed to be going well," Birdwell said.

Now a gallon of regular unleaded costs an average of $2.90 in Knoxville, $3.02 nationwide. Giving holiday travel plans a case of the bah-humbug.

"We were thinking about taking a trip to the mountains. So we're looking at 90 dollars in gas alone," Birdwell said.

"We can't afford to drive as long as gas prices are like this," driver Linda McClanahan said.

The costs fueled by record high crude oil prices.

"That's bad news for air travelers too because jet fuel tracks the price of crude oil," said Rick Seaney, CEO, a consumer airfare research website. CEO Rick Seaney says prices on the ground have sent prices in the

"Travelers who haven't bought their tickets yet absolutely have to buy their tickets today or tomorrow," Seaney said.

Seaney says since Labor Day all the major airlines have increased ticket prices seven times.

"The average increase in price since labor day is a little over 60 dollars," Seaney said.

And it's airports like McGhee Tyson that feel it the most.

"Worst hit are the smaller cities and smaller regional airports because there's not enough competition to drive the price back down," Seaney said.

The best way not to drain your wallet at the ticket counter: be flexible. For the week of Thanksgiving...

"You have to go Monday or Tuesday, or the day of Thanksgiving on Thursday. Come back on Saturday-stay away from Wednesday and Sunday," Seaney said.

Seaney says those are the two busiest travel days of year.

"Not only will you save money. You're going ot save yourself a lot of hassle," Seaney said.

The Birdwell's travels aren't off...yet.

"We're going to spend the money to make our families happy," Birdwell said.

A trip commitment by Holiday spirit.

Rick Seaney says most likely we'll see at least one more airfare increase before the end of the year, but if gas prices stabilize, we could see a price break early in 2008.
He says the best way to avoid higher fares is to book as early as possible. That means at least three to four months in advance.