After two years of stop-and-start COVID-19 restrictions, Americans are ready to re-embrace holiday travel this year. If you’re hitting the road, expect company—lots of it. According to a recent survey from travel booking app Hopper, almost 60% of people plan to travel over Thanksgiving, the winter holidays or both.
“We have a lot of demand and fewer seats to book,” says Hayley Berg, Hopper’s lead economist.
The surge comes as travel and tourism companies are paying more for labor and other major costs like jet fuel—and passing those price hikes along to customers. Airfares have climbed by nearly 43% on a year-over-year basis, according to the October Consumer Price Index. Hotel rates were up by nearly 6.5% for the year, and experts predict this will rise further around the holidays. Hopper found that Thanksgiving hotel rates are an average of 13% higher than last year, while Christmas rates are up by 32%.
Higher prices are probably here to stay for the foreseeable future. Multiple airline industry executives have cited strong demand on recent earnings calls, and travelers seem willing to pay up: A survey by travel-planning site The Vacationer found that 16% of respondents are planning to spend more than $1,000 on Thanksgiving travel, and about 20% are planning to spend more than $1,000 taking trips over the winter holidays.
If you’re planning a get-together or getaway this holiday season, here’s what this means for you.
Fewer flights and pricier tickets
Airlines have pared back their schedules, especially to smaller destinations. This means residents of many smaller cities who used to be able to fly direct will now have to travel to a larger hub airport, says Kathleen Bangs, spokeswoman at flight-tracking company FlightAware. “The issue is it’s much, much harder for the regionals to find pilots,” she