Time is running out to book relatively cheap flights during the holidays

If you haven’t already booked your air travel vacation, you probably should. Airlines are reporting high demand and rising prices. (Story aired on ATC on October 21, 2022.)


Time is running out if you’re hoping to book a relatively cheap flight over the holidays. Airlines say demand is strong and prices are rising fast, and that means those airlines are back to making big profits. From Chicago, NPR’s David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Airline executives are as gleeful as children unwrapping Christmas presents when they report big third-quarter earnings.

ED BASTIAN: Demand for air travel continues to be very strong.

SCHAPER: That’s Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian noting that pandemic-weary travelers are back.

BASTIAN: After two years of delaying travel, it’s clear that consumers are getting out and traveling the world.

SCHAPER: Ed Bastian predicts it will be a very strong festive season, a sentiment shared at United by commercial director Andrew Nocella.

ANDREW NOCELLA: We’re definitely seeing a lot of strength for the holidays. We’re obviously getting closer to the Thanksgiving time frame, and our reservations are incredibly strong.

SCHAPER: And Nocella is noticing a significant change in vacation travel.

NOCELLA: The reservations are a bit different this year, as they are more spread out over several days. That’s definitely a new travel pattern for us.

SCHAPER: Fewer Thanksgiving travelers fly out the Wednesday before and return home the following Sunday. Those who can work remotely are staying longer and spreading their travel over a week or more, so the Mondays and Tuesdays before and after the holidays are busier. And the same is true at Christmas, too. As for airfare…

HAYLEY BERG: In general, Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares are much higher than last year, but last year was still a pandemic-impacted holiday season.

SCHAPER: Hayley Berg is Principal Economist at the travel search and booking app Hopper. And she says fares have gone up 40% or more on some routes because demand is picking up while airlines haven’t yet returned to full capacity.

BERG: Which means we’re going to have fewer flights available and more travelers looking to go home or vacation over the holidays. That means you could be paying a much higher price and not be able to get a seat on the specific flight you want to take.

SCHAPER: Berg recommends booking vacation travel now because prices are only going to go higher. And he warns that there will likely be some chaos for vacationing travelers.

BERG: We expect the holiday season to be very busy, and that means we will see higher cancellation and delay rates. That said, we don’t expect to see as high a volume of cancellations and delays as we did this summer.

SCHAPER: Across the industry, airlines say they have been hiring and training more flight crews to avoid staffing shortages that caused widespread flight disruptions over the summer. And they have reduced flights to more realistically match their schedules with staffing levels. But some in the industry aren’t so sure.

DENNIS TAJER: At this time, management continues to fill the holiday turkey with uncertainty.

SCHAPER: Dennis Tajer is a 737 pilot for American Airlines and a spokesman for the pilots’ union there. He says his airline still hasn’t fixed problematic scheduling that left little room for error when bad weather hit or other problems arose.

TAJER: I can tell you that I just received my schedule for November. Our schedules are fully loaded again. There won’t be much space.

SCHAPER: Union pilots and flight attendants from other airlines raised similar concerns. But Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said this week that airlines appear to be better prepared for the upcoming holiday travel season than for the tumultuous summer.

David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Please visit the terms of use and permissions pages of our website at www.npr.org for more information.

NPR transcripts are created by an NPR contractor on an urgent deadline date. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authorized record of NPR programming is the audio log.

#Time #running #book #cheap #flights #holidays

Add Comment