Holiday airfares are up -- and keep rising

American Airlines Boeing 737 at LAX
This file photo shows an American Airlines Boeing 737 parked at a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

With the economy struggling you may be surprised when booking flights for the holidays. Some of the prices seemed to have climbed very high, very fast.

CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports that holiday travelers can expect to struggle a bit this year.

Southern Methodist University senior Austin Prentice hopes to fly home to Portland for Thanksgiving, but a ticket that used to cost him just over $300 now runs over $500.

"$554 dollars is the cheapest flight I can find to fly home and back," Prentice said.

Rick Seaney, who tracks airfares, predicts ticket prices will be up an average of $40 this season because at least five major airlines are cutting flights.

"Today it's all about survive, contract, consolidate, merge, cut back. You don't hear words like 'grow,'" Seaney said. "There's only a couple of airlines that are actually adding seats."

Seaney estimates there will be 600,000 fewer seats between November 19th and 28th. In an uncertain economy, airlines want to make sure their flights are profitable.

"Procrastination is not going to help you this year. Because there's going to be no empty seats, there's no reason for airlines to discount," Seaney said.

Travelocity predicts average domestic airfares over Thanksgiving will be up about 4 percent. That will leave cash-strapped students hoping to go home for the holidays depending on luck.

"I'm still looking into it," said Prentice, the college senior. "If I find a friend here in Dallas who wants to adopt me, maybe I'll do that for Thanksgiving, because it's cheaper."

You might have better luck depending on your airline. Southwest and U.S. Airways have added seats on some routes. But waiting to book will cost you: Expect every day you wait to book to add an extra $5 to a round trip fare.