Travelers waiting to book holiday travel later this year could be in for a nasty surprise, according to discount travel site Hotwire. Nearly 80 percent of respondents have yet to book December holiday travel, with 61 percent planning to put off the task until at least November. Additionally, nearly a quarter of holiday travelers—23 percent—plan to wait until the last minute, saying they won`t book December travel until after Thanksgiving.
At the same time, 57 percent of those planning to purchase December holiday travel say they want to be careful about how much they spend on holiday travel this year, citing concerns about the economy as the reason they plan to spend less.
But with U.S. flying capacity down at least 10 percent from last year, airlines are flying with fewer open seats and thus availability will be tight closer to the holidays and fares will be higher. For this reason, Hotwire has introduced its “Plan Smart” holiday booking guide, a resource to help consumers find travel days with the most availability and lowest fares throughout the holiday season. The “Plan Smart” holiday booking guide can be found on the Hotwire Web site,
advises travelers to book as early as possible to find open seats and the best fares. Additionally, Hotwire offers the following advice for booking holiday air travel:
- Travel on off-peak days—when more seats are available—can result in much better fares. Peak days usually yield higher fares because demand is greater. The following are peak days to avoid when searching for the best fares:
— November 26-27, 2002 (Tuesday, Wednesday)
— December 1-2, 2002 (Sunday, Monday)
— December 19-23, 2002 (Thursday - Monday)
— December 26-30, 2002 (Thursday - Monday)
— January 2, 4-6, 2003 (Thursday, Saturday - Monday)
— Book rental cars as soon as possible. Reduced fleets mean less availability and higher rates closer to the holidays. The ideal time to book a rental car for holiday travel is during the month of October.