COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Book your trip now for the holidays, and don’t procrastinate. Experts explain it will cost you more money the later you book.
“If you can travel Monday through Thursday and come back on a Monday through Thursday, you’re going to get the best rates,” said Jeannie Gualtieri, owner of Active Travel in Hilliard.
Gualtieri explained if you still need to book travel and accommodations for Thanksgiving and Christmas, being flexible might help you find the best deal.
“You know if you can travel on the holiday, usually you’re going to have a little bit better of an air price,” said Gualtieri.
Leaving 2-3 days ahead of the actual holiday can also yield a better-priced airfare, and Gualtieri advises to pay close attention to connecting flight times.
“You want to definitely make sure that you have a minimum of an hour connecting time, the airlines are now putting in like 30 or 40 minutes and there’s no way you’re going to make that connection if they have to de-ice a plane,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said based on current flight trends, John Glenn International Airport (CMH) expects holiday travel to return to passenger numbers seen prior to the pandemic.
“Columbus airport is about 80-85 percent of a recovery from 2019, so, that’s what we’re looking at, which is great,” said Jessica Mayle with the TSA.
With the boost in travelers, the TSA recommends passengers allow for extra time even if CMH does not anticipate staffing shortages.
“TSA locally in Ohio works with the airlines. They told us you know how their flights are selling, we can project passenger numbers that way, and that way we have the appropriate amount of staff working,” said Mayle.
Gualtieri suggested you book holiday travel by the end of October to avoid any last-minute price hikes.
“Each airline only has so many seats in each category they sell,” said Gualtieri.
Once seats are sold at a certain rate, airfare prices can climb hundreds of dollars a day.
“You could be sitting beside somebody who paid $300 for a ticket, and you had to pay $1,100,” Gualtieri said.
Across the country, Active Travel has seen car rental prices soar due to shortages caused by the pandemic, and hotels are being sold out due to limited capacity numbers.
“Everybody’s raised their rates, the airlines, the hotels, everything has raised the rates due to the pandemic,” said Gualtieri.
She recommended booking travel packages that include airfare, hotel, and car rental to save you a lot of time, hassle, and money.
“It’s your best dollar for dollar value you know going in it because everything’s on one itinerary, so you don’t have a lot of suppliers you have to call, and it makes it more convenient for the consumer too.”
Active Travel also recommended booking directly with the airline. If you use a third-party travel site, make sure to read the fine print of rules and restrictions in case you need to cancel or change your holiday plans.