Holiday Travel Demand to Drop but Expect Packed Planes

The Air Transport Association, which represents most of the major airlines, is forecasting a 2 percent drop in travelers over the coming Thanksgiving holiday period. That means about 400,000 fewer passengers will be crowding into airports and planes.

However, procrastinators cannot be complacent – if you haven’t purchased your holiday airfare by now, time is running out.

See 3 Reasons NOT to Delay on Holiday Airfare

Fewer Passengers, but Planes Will be Packed

Most travelers won’t notice that the mobs at the airports and on the planes are appreciably thinned-out. That’s because of the voracious pace of seat cutting the airlines have indulged in this year. Capacity cuts have dumped thousands of seats, meaning the planes will still be full or near-full, and the chances you’ll wind up with an empty middle seat near you are not good.

Top Four Mistakes of Holiday Airfare Shoppers

Uncomfortable flights isn’t the only problem, though. Procrastinators who wait until the last minute not only won’t find anything resembling a deal, they’ll be lucky to find a seat at all.

Smart tip: If you haven’t purchased your Thanksgiving airfare yet, do so now. Ditto for Christmas plane tickets. There is an advantage to shopping for the December holidays, in that there is still time to get in on some of the better deals that require a 21-day advance purchase.

Question for readers: Have you bought your holiday plane tickets yet? If not, why the delay?

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Published: November 4, 2011