If you are itching to get out and see the world after almost two years of confinement then travel experts say you need to book airline tickets now even if your plans aren't scheduled until spring 2022.
With gas prices soaring and airlines still running below their normal fleets sizes, there are going to be some problems. Factor that into a post-pandemic world soft opening and the normal cast of characters you'll have to deal with in a public forum and there's a perfect storm of possible obstacles that could hamper your well-planned trip.
“Christmas holidays are expected to be busier than 2019, now that’s a little bit hard to buy into when you consider they’re flying fewer planes. It may mean though that they’re flying those planes at near 100 percent,” Donald Oneal, President of Travel World told ABC News.
Any seasoned traveler knows that padding their itinerary with time and delay expectations is not only smart but necessary for good mental health.
It may seem obvious, but booking flights and car rentals on off-days is a great principle. Your nerves and bank account won't suffer as much as those waiting until the last minute.
For example, traveling between December 20 through December 28 is going to be more expensive with the exception of Christmas Day.
Federal vaccine mandates are also something to consider. Starting in early December both American and Southwest Airlines will require their employees to be vaccinated while Delta is still considering whether or not they have to follow that rule. Nonetheless, according to federal law, companies with 100 staff members or more will need to show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly.
United Airlines has preemptively mandated that all of its employees get vaccinated. Domestic travelers are not required to show proof of vaccination, but international travelers must provide proof or provide a negative test result within three days prior to departure.
It's not expected that international travel will be as popular as domestic travel this year and into 2022.
"Some of the biggest destinations people are going to, Vegas, Miami, and you guessed it, Tampa Bay,” said Willis Orlando, Product Operations Specialist with Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Speaking of Florida, now might be the time to plan your summer vacation. If you travel at the beginning of July you could benefit financially, "you can probably save about 20-30 percent,” said Oneal.
Adds Orlando: “Prices are depressed, and a lot of these fare sells are going through March, April, even May, but we do not expect that to continue.”
According to Russ Dubuc of RD Travel Limited Inc., "Las Vegas is raising room rates. Hawaii is now welcoming visitors who are vaccinated and arrive with a negative Covid-19 test November 1."
Cruise lines are also bringing more ships out of storage according to Dubuc. "There are still great specials offered. If you want to cruise in 2022, book early because the demand to cruise is very high."
The bottom line according to travel experts is to book everything as early in advance as possible. With a volatile and voracious market, the normal problems regarding holiday travel are going to be intensified in the coming months.
If the prospect is too overwhelming you might want to hire a travel advisor. They are there to help and can oftentimes get you through travel days unscathed. Although it's not free, the peace of mind might be worth the nominal fee.