Why now is the best time to book holiday air travel

Don’t be fooled by temporary declines in airline tickets, an expert told FOX Weather, as prices are rising again and airlines are hacking flights for the fall and holiday season. The time to buy holiday airline tickets on a budget is in the next few weeks.

“After the chaos of the summer, I’m very happy to say that prices are already coming down. Now they’re typically down 10-15%, [through] anyway end of August and September. But actually this year we’re already seeing prices down 25% and availability should be really good,” Kathleen Bangs, airline pilot and FlightAware spokesperson, told FOX Weather. “That means if you’re looking to buy a ticket in August and September for later this year, there are plenty of seats at really good prices.”

Bangs noted that prices have already fallen and historically continue to fall as children go back to school. This year, most airlines saw an early peak in holiday travel demand. Most likely, travelers felt a pent-up desire to travel following the restrictions and fears of Covid-19 over the past two years. Since many people have already gone on vacation, the drop in ticket prices is even greater.

“But buy those tickets within the next six weeks because October will see fares go up sharply again,” Bangs said. “All airlines are cutting capacity for this fall, nothing unusual. Here’s what’s surprising: They’re also cutting November into the holidays, so there’s less choice.”

If you’re someone looking to take advantage of the lower prices currently available for a vacation, consider traveling in October.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

So far, spring and summer air travel has been plagued by cancellations and delays, some weather, some staffing. As a result, American Airlines announced it was removing over 30,000 flights from its schedule. They will cease service to Toledo, Ohio; Dubuque, Iowa; Islip, New York and Ithaca, New York.

“Looking ahead, we will limit capacity to the resources we have and the operating conditions we face. We will continue to redefine and create value for our customers,” said Robert Isom, CEO of American Airlines, during the second-quarter earnings call. “We have taken steps to add additional buffers to our schedule.”

Other airlines are also making cuts.

Flight departure board showing all flights canceled during a snow event at Newark International Airport, Newark, New Jersey, March 21, 2018.
With fewer seats to choose from, supply and demand take the ball out of the procrastinators’ courts.
Collection Smith/Gado/Getty Images

“Across the board, they just reduced capacity by 15%,” Bangs said. “In fact, airlines have canceled a total of 50,000 flights for this fall so far.”

With fewer seats to choose from, supply and demand take the ball out of the procrastinators’ courts.

“So if you really want to travel this holiday season, look for these tickets now. You can now always buy a more expensive ticket if it is non-refundable and if you see something better later you can always redeem it.”

If you’re someone looking to take advantage of the current lower prices for a vacation, consider the October trip that Bangs has added.

“October is historically the best month to travel in the US barring hurricanes. It’s a bit late for severe thunderstorms in the north and it’s early for snow,” Bangs, a former airline pilot, said of the weather. “Such great travel weather which should help alleviate some of the chaos we’ve seen all summer with these delays and cancellations.”

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