Boston Globe: Thinking about holiday travel? Now is the time to start booking, and emotionally preparing.

September 14, 2022 Media

Dear procrastinators, dawdlers, and professional dilly-dalliers. Please pay attention because this message is specifically directed at you. Airfares for holiday travel are projected to be historically high this year, and they’ll only get more expensive the longer you wait to book.

If you already have your holiday plane ticket, the news is still rough. Brace yourself for more summer 2022-like craziness at the airport — depending on whom you ask.

Both domestic and international fares for Thanksgiving travel are predicted to be more than 20 percent higher than they were in 2019, according to Andrew Heritage, senior economist at the travel booking website Hopper. On average, domestic flights will set you back $350 round-trip, and international travel will cost roughly $800 round-trip. It’s the highest prices have been in five years.

Airline delays and disruptions have been slowly dropping since peaking in June. According to the Department of Transportation, 30 percent of flights in Boston were disrupted (25 percent were delayed and 5 percent were canceled) in June. Over the past two weeks, that number fell to 19 percent (18 percent delayed and one percent canceled).

Not everyone is convinced.

“I wish I could say I’m optimistic about travel this holiday season, but I’m not. I don’t see that this industry has owned up to its problems fully,” said William McGee, senior fellow for aviation and travel at the American Economic Liberties Project. “When we’re talking about a shortage of commercial airline pilots, that’s a very long pipeline. Obviously, we don’t want to rush anyone through to be certified, so this is not a problem that will fix itself overnight.”

Maybe this isn’t a good time to think about winter weather as a holiday travel wild card.

For now, the smartest thing you can do is purchase your ticket for holiday travel before prices rise. Or you can follow McGee’s lead.

“If I can’t drive to it, I’m not doing it,” he said. “I’m not going near an airport that week.”