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Holiday Travelers are Booking Earlier This Year Due to Higher Prices

AAA urges travelers to book early for the best combination of price and availability

MADISON, Wis., (September 8, 2022) – Although the summer travel season just came to an end, Wisconsinites are already beginning to lock in their plans for the holidays. When AAA fielded a travel survey in the summer, 20% of Wisconsin travelers had plans to take a trip during the holidays. Of those, 44% said they would book earlier than in years past, due to higher travel prices.

According to the survey, nearly half (46%) of Thanksgiving travelers will finalize plans by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the share of those finalizing Christmas plans are evenly spread out between now and the end of November.

When Thanksgiving travel plans would be finalized:

  • 20% before September
  • 26% September30% October
  • 20% November
  • 4% unsure

When Christmas travel plans would be finalized:

  • 18% before September
  • 12% September
  • 25% October
  • 26% November
  • 6% December
  • 13% unsure

"Travelers expecting to fly this Thanksgiving should start locking in those plans now," said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Airline staffing shortages have resulted in fewer flights and higher prices. As we get closer to the holidays, airfares are likely to get even more expensive as flights fill up. Our best advice is simple. Book early. This will increase the odds of finding the flight you want at a competitive price."

Click here to view the full survey

Reasons Why Some Wisconsin Travelers will Avoid Air Travel

Over half (64%) of travelers plan to take at least one flight during the holiday season. Of those not planning a flight, the largest share (70%) don't plan to fly because their destination is within driving distance. Meanwhile, 37% blame the higher cost of airfares, while 27% are concerned that flights will be delayed or canceled.

AAA's Advice for Booking a Flight

  • Book early for the best combination of availability and price.
  • Book a direct flight that leaves early in the morning. Afternoon and evening flights are more susceptible to delays/cancellations due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Connecting flights multiply the risk of something going wrong.
  • Consider traveling a day or two earlier than planned. Even if you face delays, you are still likely to arrive on time.
  • If your flight has connections, build in a couple hours in between flights. This way, if your first flight is delayed, you are less likely to miss your second one.

"With all the unpredictability with air travel, we are seeing more and more passengers opt for travel insurance," Haas said. "Travel Insurance is such a valuable resource for air travelers, because it provides financial benefits for lost or delayed luggage, flight cancellations, even flight delays of as little as three hours."

According to AAA's survey, 47% of Wisconsinites are more likely to purchase travel insurance now than before the pandemic began.

AAA will release its Thanksgiving Travel Forecast in early November.

About the AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey

The AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey was conducted online among residents living in Wisconsin from July 8 - 15, 2022. A total of 400 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9% points. Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Wisconsin.

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