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Christmas Travel 2023: Airline Prices Surge, Experts Advise Caution

The 2023 holiday season is approaching fast, and eager travelers are already looking to secure their flights. Experts warn that monitoring flight prices early is crucial, but caution against immediate bookings. Data from travel app Hopper reveals that airline prices for Christmas travel are tracking as high as last year, with a staggering 20% increase compared to pre-pandemic holiday fares. Such price volatility is expected to persist over the next two to three months, making it a challenging period for travelers to navigate.

Prices Surge, Caution is Key

Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper, emphasizes the importance of early planning, suggesting that “Christmas in July” is the perfect time to start considering travel options. However, she advises against rushing into bookings due to the extreme price fluctuations expected in the coming weeks. Monitoring prices diligently is the way to go for now.

A Look at the Data

Hopper data indicates that fares for holiday travel will remain consistently high throughout the summer, gradually dropping as September and October approach, also known as the “shoulder season.” According to Hopper, the best time to book flights is during September and early October, when prices are typically $100 cheaper compared to mid-summer rates. Clint Henderson, managing editor of The Points Guy, shares a similar sentiment, urging holiday travelers to commence their research without delay.

Domestic vs. International Trips

For those eyeing domestic trips during the holidays, Henderson advises, “be prepared to book if you see a deal.” Domestic travel is expected to be popular, but the added capacity by airlines means slightly lower prices compared to the previous year. However, the demand is projected to be remarkably high, making last-minute deals uncertain.

For international holiday trips, the situation is more complex. Travelers are encouraged to start booking or at least closely monitoring prices from now until September. Henderson warns that the demand for international travel during the holiday season will be nothing short of “bonkers.” Despite airlines having increased capacity, peak holiday dates are expected to remain consistently higher in price than usual.

What to Expect

While airlines may not have the same pricing power as they did a year ago, significant discounts on holiday fares should not be anticipated. The added capacity might help temper prices slightly, but the surge in demand will likely offset any potential discounts. Thus, travelers should prepare themselves for higher-than-normal holiday airfares.

The Takeaway

As the 2023 holiday season approaches, travel enthusiasts are urged to start planning and monitoring flight prices promptly. Although prices are currently surging, the period between September and early October may offer some reprieve in terms of slightly lower fares. However, it’s essential to remain cautious, as the prices are expected to remain volatile until the holiday season arrives. Whether opting for domestic or international trips, securing a good deal might require vigilance and quick decision-making. So, fasten your seatbelts, keep your eyes on the skies, and get ready for a festive journey!

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