Auto owners club AAA is urging travelers to book holiday flights as soon as possible, warning that airfares and cancellations are poised to surge for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In an advisory issued Wednesday, AAA noted that staffing and other pandemic-related issues have forced airlines to reduce the number of routes and seats they offer. Airfares have increased 20% in the past year and “will likely continue to rise in the coming months,” the group added.
“Booking holiday travel now should help to address all of these issues,” said Ragina Cooper Ali, AAA spokesperson for Maryland and Washington, D.C. “By booking air travel now, flyers afford themselves greater choice and greater flexibility, increasing the opportunity for a positive, stress-free travel experience.”
AAA suggests for booking holiday flights:
- Look for early morning flights, allowing more flexibility in the event of delays or cancellations. Try to fly a day or two early to avoid losing the trip to flight disruptions.
- Schedule long layovers to allow for unexpected delays and buy travel insurance. Review the airline’s rebooking policies.
- Check in at least 24 hours in advance, bringing both a printed boarding pass and e-ticket to the airport. Enroll in TSA pre-screening for faster, quicker lines.
- Arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. Download the airline’s app and the Flight Aware app to track actual and potential delays.
According to AAA, airfare will hit an all-time high as it reaches pre-pandemic levels this holiday season. The busiest and most expensive travel days are typically the day before Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas.
For Thanksgiving, the average domestic airfare will be around $350, with international round trips averaging $795.
Christmas falls on a weekend this year, driving the average cost of round-trip domestic tickets up to $463, more than in 2019. International round trips will average up to $1,300.