The best time to buy your vacation plane tickets
If summer was any indication, the airline bustle will continue through the end of the year.
This is the outlook for airlines and the tourism industry as we approach the fall travel season and look forward to the winter holidays.
Hopper, a travel agency that analyzes data for airfare price forecasts, is seeing strong booking demand for vacation travel after an “amazing” summer.
The pent-up demand after two years of the pandemic is in part because for some travelers it will be the first time they’ve visited family for the holidays since the outbreak of COVID-19, the door-keeper said. word of Hopper, Lindsay Schwimer.
“Last year, omicron spiked during the holiday season, so people will be looking forward to taking holiday trips this year and seeing family and friends,” she said.
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Expect huge demand for holiday flights in 2022
While it’s too early to tell how busy the fall and winter holidays will be — AAA only releases its seasonal travel outlook two weeks before the holidays — some indicators suggest travelers should expect year-end trips are just as busy as the summer.
TripAdvisor’s Fall Travel Survey, which forecasts trends from September to November, showed that 6 in 10 Americans plan to travel this fall. About 49% plan to fly.
At the 2022 Cowen World Conference on Transportation and Sustainable Mobility, which took place virtually, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said the airline’s leisure bookings “remained strong” after the party work.
“As we look to the future, I’m pleased with how we handled the summer and bounced back through the pandemic,” he said.
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Airlines are hiring more workers
This summer has been a challenge for flights: many flights have been delayed or cancelled. Staff shortages have been a major contributory factor.
According to Oxford Economics, around 2.3 million fewer aviation jobs existed globally in September 2021, down 21% from pre-pandemic levels. This included approximately 340,000 fewer jobs in the airline industry.
Airlines are taking steps to improve their operations.
U.S. airline employment in June 2022 increased by 6,775 workers to a total of 767,263, including 458,136 full-time passenger airline workers, according to the most recent data from the Department of Transportation. This is an increase from the same month in 2019, before the pandemic.
Three airlines drove the increase: Delta Air Lines hired 2,981 people that month, United Airlines added 1,322 and Southwest Airlines added 1,007.
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Airlines for America, a trade group representing US airlines, said its seven passenger carriers – Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United – had 10% more pilots per block hour than to before the pandemic.
(In the airline industry, block hours measure the time between a departing plane’s door closing and its opening upon arrival.)
American Airlines hired about 12,000 people in various job categories last year, Isom told the conference. He also said the company is “making good progress” as American continued to hire throughout the summer to prepare for the months ahead.
But there will be fewer flights this fall
Despite the growth in the workforce, airlines still do not have enough workers to meet demand.
Many have responded by removing flights from their schedules.
“Flight schedules for September and October are down 15% from pre-pandemic levels, and carriers are cutting September flights by 5% from what was expected at the start of the summer” said Airlines for America spokeswoman Marli Collier.
“Airlines set their schedules months in advance and are constantly evaluating to optimize performance and prioritize smooth operations.”
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American Airlines, which operates the majority of flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, recently released its final schedule for November that showed 30,000 fewer flights.
An American Airlines spokesman, Brian Metham, said the airline is working on what it calls a “reserved schedule,” which is released about a year in advance, and adjusts it closer to the scheduled flight time.
Its final schedule is released about 100 days in advance, he said. On average, American operates nearly 5,300 daily departures nationwide.
American’s full-year flight capacity for 2022 is expected to end between 7.5% and 9.5% less than before the pandemic, Metham said.
How to book your holiday flights 2022
► Do not delay: Industry experts suggest travelers book their flights as soon as possible.
Through Oct. 20, consumers will find the best airfares for Thanksgiving and the December holidays, Schwimer said. Higher prices and limited options are likely after mid-October.
“There are still deals available now for the holidays, so we recommend booking as soon as you see a price you’re comfortable with,” she said.
► Save money by flying off-peak: Avoiding peak travel days can lead to cost savings.
Expedia found in its Thanksgiving flight data that travelers could save an average of 5% on airfare by traveling on the Sunday, Monday or Tuesday before the holiday instead of Wednesday.
“For some destinations, the savings are even greater – average ticket prices to Las Vegas, for example, go from around $550 to $380 (round-trip) just by changing the departure date to earlier in the week. said Francheska Taveras, spokesperson for Expedia Group.
► The two best days to fly: For travelers who are flexible on their dates or wait until the last minute, Schwimer said, the best deals for the holidays are when the fewest travelers are expected: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.