Science

Last minute flights during the holidays will cost you more this year

Those still looking to book trips home to visit family or take a break during the holidays need to act fast—and be prepared for sticker shock.

Airline executives say that based on the bookings, they expect huge demand for flights over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Travel experts say the best deals on airfares and hotels have already run out.

On social media, many passengers feel that they are being assaulted. It’s an understandable sentiment when government data shows airfares in October rose 43% from a year earlier, and American Airlines reported a combined profit of more than $2.4 billion in the third quarter. did.

The reason for the higher fares is that airlines are still operating fewer flights than in 2019, even though passenger numbers have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Less flights and more people going home or taking vacations means two things: Prices will be higher, and we will both sell flights for vacations,” said Holly Berg, chief economist at travel-data provider Hopper.

Yulia Parr knows exactly what Berg is talking about. An Annandale, Virginia, woman struggles to find a reasonably priced flight home for her young son, who is spending Thanksgiving with his grandmother in Texas, while Par visits her husband, who is on active military duty in California. is on. She eventually got a $250 one-way ticket for her son to Southwest, but it’s not until the Tuesday after the holiday.

Parr figures he waited too long to book a flight.

“My husband’s kids are going home for Christmas,” she said. “Those tickets were bought long ago, so they’re not too bad.”

short trips to stay on budget

Air travel and lodging prices usually go up during the holidays, and this happened earlier this year. According to Axel Heffer, CEO of Germany-based hotel-search company Trivago, this is prompting some travelers in Europe to book shorter trips.

“Hotel prices are absolutely everywhere,” he said. “If you have the same budget or even less through inflation, and you still want to travel, you just cut off a day.”


How to maximize your hotel stay

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Hotels are grappling with labor shortages, another reason for the high prices. Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, which owns travel-finding sites including Train and Kayak, said a hotelier told him he couldn’t fill all his rooms because they didn’t have enough staff.

US consumers are facing the most inflation in 40 years, and there is growing concern about a possible recession. However, it is not showing up in the iteration numbers.

Holiday travel may be above pre-pandemic levels

According to October data from the Transportation Security Administration, the number of passengers leaving airport checkpoints has reached nearly 95% of 2019 traffic. Travel industry executives say holiday travel may be well above pre-pandemic levels.

Airlines haven’t always done a good job of handling large crowds, even though they are hiring workers to replace those who left later. COVID-19 hit. Rates of canceled and delayed flights rose above pre-pandemic levels this summer, slowing airlines’ plans to add more flights.

According to travel-data firm Cirium, US airlines operated only 84 per cent of the number of US flights in October 2019, and the same percentage planned in December. On average, airlines are using larger planes with more seats this year, which partially compensates for the reduction in flights.

“We’re certainly seeing a lot of strength for the holidays,” United Airlines chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said on the company’s earnings call in October. “We’re getting closer to the Thanksgiving timeframe, and our bookings are incredibly strong.”

Airline official and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigiego accuse each other to widespread flight problems in the summer. The airline’s CEO says that after hiring more pilots and other staff, they are ready for the holiday rush.

Travel experts give tips to save money and avoid being trapped From a canceled flight, though the advice hasn’t changed much over the years.

Be flexible about dates and even destinations when visiting Grandma’s house. In a recent search, the cheapest flights from Los Angeles to New York around Christmas were on Christmas Eve and returning on New Year’s Eve.

Look for discount airlines and alternate airports, but be aware that smaller airlines have fewer options for booking passengers once a flight is cancelled.

Fly early in the day to reduce your risk of delays or cancellations. “If something goes wrong, it progresses throughout the day – it becomes a domino effect,” said Chuck Thakston, general manager of Airlines Reporting Corp., an intermediary between airlines and travel agents.

There are a lot of theories on the best day of the week to book a trip. Thakston said it’s a Sunday because airlines know when many price-conscious consumers are shopping, and what carriers offer for them.

While for the most part, airlines have dodged charge of raising the price that revolves around oil companies, the president announced in September a new initiative that will eventually allow consumers to see more full price on airline tickets – Including baggage and change fees – before you buy.

Accountable America, an advocacy group critical of corporations, this summer linked airline delays and cancellations to job cuts during the pandemic and poor treatment of workers. “But in general, we would say that the airline industry is not currently on the same level as large food, oil or retail in terms of gross profiteering,” said group spokesman Jeremy Funk.

Meanwhile, travelers are making sacrifices to reduce the cost of their trips.

Sheena Hale and her daughter, Krista Pyle, woke up at 3 a.m. and left their northwest Indiana home an hour later and took a 6:25 a.m. flight to Chicago last week.

“We’re tired,” Hale said after the plane landed in Dallas, where Krista was participating in a cheering contest. “We started early because the initial flights were very cheap. Flights are very expensive.”

They are not going anywhere for Christmas.

“We don’t have to travel. We’re staying at home with family,” Hale said.

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