PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The kids aren’t back to school yet and we need to talk about your holiday travel plans.
The time to book is now if it’s not already too late.
The picture is not pretty. We have all seen the problems that airlines already have. Well, there is no sign that it will suddenly improve in November and December.
Want to fly over the river and through the woods to see grandma for Thanksgiving?
“It’s a little late to plan at that time during the holiday periods,” said Joe Weigler of Shadyside Travel.
“The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get because I don’t think you’re going to see an increase. Capacity is very minimal by the time the holidays start,” Weigler added.
Marita Williams of AAA Travel agreed.
“If you’re just doing air, we’re good now,” Williams said.
Because we don’t have to get close to the holidays for there to be a problem.
“When those flights start to sell out, and they’re three-quarters, to halfway, the fares are going to go up. They’re not going to go down,” Williams said.
And it’s harder to get to Pittsburgh’s more popular destinations, like Orlando.
“We might have had seven or eight flights a day; now we might be at four or five flights a day,” Williams said.
How much faith do you have to have even if you have a ticket?
“They have to get you there, but it might not be in the time frame you want,” Williams said.
“I wouldn’t be at the point of saying be shy because, despite the high number of cancellations, there are still a lot of flights that have flown and a lot of on-time or minimal delays,” Weigler mentioned.
But airlines are wrangling, and Williams said don’t be surprised if between now and your vacation flight, the airline changes your schedule.
So are there ways to have a better chance of getting what you want at this point?
Being flexible on the days and times of your trip will help and be careful what you buy. Is it refundable, what protections do you have?
Pumpkin spice lattes are coming and Halloween candy is on store shelves, so it’s the perfect time to talk Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.
In fact, if you haven’t already made your holiday travel plans, you’re facing a dwindling deadline.
First and foremost, just know that there are more backseats that want to get where you’re going than cramped airline seats to get you all there.
Holiday travel tip no. 1?
“If you plan to travel during the holiday season, do it tomorrow. Today, tomorrow, as soon as possible,” adds Weigler.
To avoid the hassle of canceled or delayed flights, Williams said plan to get up before the sun and catch the first flight of the day.
“Because, chances are your flight won’t be delayed that much because it’ll already be there and ready. If you have a flight at 6 in the morning, chances are it’s not coming from anywhere else, that’s the start of that day the plane,” Williams said.
But those flights fill up first, and Weigler said for a better chance of getting a seat and a potentially cheaper price, look toward midday or evening travel.
“If you can change your timing, you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want,” Weigler said.
Joe and Marita said you might consider traveling on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
“You’ll find a lot less traffic obviously for obvious reasons on those days. And you may also have better availability,” Williams added.
Moreover, book your rental car now.
“They’re going to have to pay a lot more for rental cars than they ever have in the past,” Weigler said.
“That price is going to go up because they still have a shortage of cars,” Williams said.
And while hotels are a bit more available, the prices won’t be in the holiday spirit.
“They’re trying to make up for lost revenue like everybody else. And their prices are generally higher now than they’ve been,” Weigler said.
And in the current climate, Williams said travel insurance is a smart investment.
“It’s really not that expensive when you think about what you’re doing for your vacation. You want to protect that investment.”
If you book yourself, read everything carefully and using a professional can help you find the best deals and give you someone to call if there are any problems.
With all the cancellations and delays lately, it seems like it’s just too stressful to think about traveling with the family.
Williams said if your flight is canceled, go to the counter line to rebook, but call the airline at the same time. You have a good chance of getting an agent on the phone before it’s your turn.