For those who priced out a December trip earlier this year and found travel was out of their reach this holiday season, it’s time for another look.
Travelocity’s most recent data shows a steady decline in airfare over the last five weeks with an average price drop of $53.
“If Thanksgiving was any indicator, we can expect fewer travelers this holiday season,” said Amy Ziff, Travelocity’s editor-at-large. “Softening travel demand is translating into lower prices for travelers.” With less than one month to go until Christmas, prudent travelers who hope to get away will realize falling airfares and stellar hotel deals are based on availability and may not last much longer.
Following are the top five origination cities and destinations and the average prices in mid-October as compared with Travelocity’s most recent airfare data.
Top Origin Avg. outbound fare 10/14 Avg. outbound fare 11/21
New York $637 $568
Los Angeles $622 $548
Washington, DC $553 $484
San Francisco $651 $573
Chicago $560 $481
Top Destination Avg. inbound fare 10/14 Avg. inbound fare 11/21
New York $402 $375
South Florida $461 $434
Los Angeles $442 $412
Las Vegas $383 $366
Orlando $398 $382
“Though this dip in airfare is certainly good news for cash-strapped travelers, the best values are still found in combination with hotel stays and promotions,” said Ziff. For example, the average daily rate for hotels is down in five of the nation’s most popular destinations – Las Vegas (down 20 percent), Orlando (down 14 percent), Chicago (down 8 percent), San Diego (down 7 percent), and South Florida (down 6 percent). Promotions are plentiful right now as well. On Travelocity.com, Travelers can save $75 on three-night hotel stays in select cities when booking with a valid MasterCard card and entering the code BONUS75; $100 off a five-night ski vacation when booking with a valid MasterCard card and entering the code SNOW100; and $100 off four-night Orlando vacations when booking with a valid MasterCard card and entering the code ORL100. Visit Travelocity.com for complete details on these promotions.
Despite the economic downturn, there will be no shortage of travelers taking to the skies and hitting the roads this holiday season. “If airfare, gas prices and hotel rates continue to decline, those who do the math may find their December travels will actually cost less than last year to some of the most popular destinations.”
Top Booked Domestic Destinations
1. New York City 6. Denver
2. South Florida 7. Chicago
3. Los Angeles 8. Washington, DC
4. Las Vegas 9. San Francisco
5. Orlando 10. Phoenix
Top Booked International Destinations
1. Cancun 6. Mexico City
2. London 7. Bahamas
3. San Jose Cabo 8. Dominican Republic
4. Puerto Vallarta 9. Paris
5. Jamaica 10. Toronto
Evaluating the overall “hassle factor” of traveling this season, Thanksgiving typically serves as a good indicator of what travelers can expect over the busy holiday season ahead. According to Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force, stationed for two days at 10 of the nation’s busiest airports, security lines were manageable, as were check-in counters. But despite warnings, many air travelers were still unclear on changes in the industry, such as checked bag fees and how capacity cuts can impact travel. Given what we learned at Thanksgiving, winter holiday travelers would be wise to brush up on their “defensive travel” techniques to make their air travels as smooth as possible.
— Know your carrier’s baggage policy. With most carriers charging $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second, you don’t want to bust your budget. A family of four each checking two bags could end up paying as much as $320 round trip. Consider shipping gifts as wrapped gifts will be unwrapped at security.
— Check in online and early. Capacity cuts mean full flights. Checking in as early as possible will allow you to secure your seat assignment and ensure your family is seated together, and is key to your comfort, especially on a long flight. You can check in on most airline Web sites up to 24 hours before your flight.
— Be proactive. With recent capacity cuts, there may be changes to your itinerary. Make sure your flight is still scheduled to leave at the time it was supposed to when you purchased your ticket. The longer ago you purchased, the more crucial it is for you to confirm flight departure and arrival times.
— Be prepared for delays. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny in your city, because a snowstorm in the Midwest can foul up the whole air traffic system. Bring food, water (purchased post-security), a fully charged cell phone, any medication you need, and the contact information for your carrier or online travel agency in case of problems.
— Know your connecting airport. It’s worth a glance at the map of the airport you’re traveling through. If your first flight is delayed and you’re cutting it close to making your connection, knowing where you’re going and how to get there will be crucial to making that flight.