Holiday Travel

Planning Holiday Travel? Get Ready for a Bumpy Ride, Experts Warn

Fares on a budget carrier are running $480 right now. Not terrible. But travel to other cities is pricier. Headed to New York? Those tickets will cost you nearly $700. Traveling to warmer West Palm Beach? Get ready to fork over more than $700.

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If you're planning to travel over the holidays, experts warn to get ready for a bumpy ride -- high airfares, delays, cancelations.

Anything is possible, they say. So the NBC4 I-Team has some advice for flying the not-so-friendly skies this holiday season.

'Tis the season for sky high airfares. Experts say some are up 55%, driven by more consumers eager to travel.

"This really boils down to demand surging faster than supply is catching up," said Zach Griff with The Points Guy.

Marcia Tillman is traveling to Milwaukee for Christmas.

"I'm kinda scared to look (at fares)," said Tillman.

Fares on a budget carrier are running $480 right now. Not terrible. But travel to other cities is pricier. Headed to New York? Those tickets will cost you nearly $700. Traveling to warmer West Palm Beach? Get ready to fork over more than $700.

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Some travelers, like Joann Gallino, buy tickets as early as possible. And experts say that's a good idea.

For example, fares for Thanksgiving, just a couple of weeks away, are much pricier. A trip to Nashville will cost you more than $700. If you're headed to New Orleans, get ready to pay $1,500 on a non-budget airline.

And after you pay that pricey fare, experts say prepare yourself for delays and cancelations. Bibiana and Brian Auth's flight was recently canceled. The airline put them on a new flight, but out of a different airport.

"And then all of a sudden, we had direct flights, and everything just got changed crazily," said Bibliana Auth.

Griff says airlines have blamed weather for recent mass cancelations.

"Every weekend for the past many weekends, it's been the airline roulette of 'who's going to have a meltdown?'" said Griff.

But Griff says staffing issues are also causing problems. He says airlines are promising they'll be fully staffed for holiday travel. But he's not so sure.

"So yes, the crews are back…flight attendants, pilots. But are mechanics back? Are airports operating at full capacity? Until the entire industry is ramped back up, the likelihood of having some type of big meltdown is definitely higher," said Griff.

So Griff has some advice:

  • Have a backup plan in place, in case your flight is canceled. Know what other airlines have flights going to your destination.
  • Try to pick the first flight of the day, because that means the aircraft has likely been on the ground overnight and is ready to go.
  • Check out the type of aircraft. Griff says flights operated by regional jets are more likely to be canceled.
  • And finally, get to the airport early.

" We've seen people get stuck in TSA lines and therefore miss their flights because they didn't arrive early enough," said Griff. "This applies even if you have Precheck, even if you have Clear."

Griff says fares should start to drop after the holidays. He hopes to see the industry return to normal by spring break.

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